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Reports of building-wide evacuations, injuries, and even deaths from carbon monoxide recur in the news regularly. Just last week, two apartments were evacuated and one person died. How equipped for safety are your rentals?

Carbon monoxide enters a home as emissions from unburnt fuel, usually heating and cooking equipment. It may be wintertime before you notice this invisible fume isn’t being properly vented.  Most people fail to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The deadly gas is nearly impossible to detect without an alarm.

Last week in California, nearly 200 tenants awoke to firemen telling them to evacuate. The culprit? An improperly vented boiler. When the tenants cranked up the heat, it began fumigating the dwelling. Hazmat was called in before the halls could be aired out and the building deemed habitable again.

The fire chief warned about poorly ventilated heating, suggesting that landlords should routinely have their furnaces checked by a qualified professional.

Also last week, firefighters in Colorado responded to an alarm in the middle of the day that, likewise, forced an evacuation of the building.   Two men were found unresponsive, one died.

Despite the warnings, each year hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisioning,  and tens of thousands are hospitalized, sometimes after being exposed to small amounts of gas over time.

It is not only a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detector in your rental units — but more and more states are making it the law.

The EPA always urges proper care of “fire-producing appliances” as the best prevention.

 

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