Survey: Many in N.Y. unaware of new CO law

Amanda’s Law took effect in 2010 but many families don’t have carbon monoxide detectors
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

MEBANE, N.C.—About a year after a new carbon monoxide detector mandate in New York went into effect, a new survey has found that nearly half of New York families still don’t know about the law, according to Kidde, a manufacturer of fire and CO safety products based here.

Amanda’s Law, which requires working CO detectors in all one- and two-family homes that have appliances or heating sources that may emit CO or have attached garages, went into effect just over a year ago.

But a new survey conducted earlier this year on behalf of Kidde, which is part of UTC Fire & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corporation, found that 57 percent of those who didn’t purchase an alarm after the law went into effect said they either ran out of time or didn’t believe they needed one, according to a Kidde press release.

However, the release said, more than 90 percent of New York homes use some type of fossil fuel as heating source, which can generate carbon monoxide, according to U.S. Census data.

The survey results didn’t surprise Andy Lowitt, VP of Lowitt Alarms in Hicksville, N.Y. That company’s services include installing and monitoring CO detectors.

He said of the new law: “Basically, I think there still could be a stronger effort from New York State to publicize it. We try to do our best but there’s still a big knowledge gap.”

He said the company sent out letters to customers when the law first passed, and also sends out email blasts on it and has information about the law on its Facebook page.

He said the passage of the law “has had some positive impact on new sales of carbon monoxide detectors, but I would not say an overwhelming response.”

He believes it would help if local AHJ’s (authorities having jurisdiction) also did more to inform the public about the law.

David George, director of communications for St. Charles, Ill.-based System Sensor, a global manufacture of fire detection and notification devices, including carbon monoxide detectors, said that whenever a state or municipality passed a CO law, there’s typically an increase in demand for monitored CO detectors. “There’s just a general awareness of it and dealers use it as a calling card,” he explained. He said they can mention to customers that it’s time to upgrade their fire systems, and that CO detectors are now mandated.

However, George said, the increase is relatively small because monitored CO detectors—which are part of a professional fire or security system—are still not very common in most residences.

“If Joe Homeowner is aware of the law, he’s likely, if he doesn’t have a professional system, to go to a big box retailer and buy a plug-in unit,” George said.

According to the Kidde press release, more than 400 New Yorkers suffered from CO poisoning between 2003 and 2010. They included Amanda Hansen, 16, after whom the state law was named. She died of CO poisoning from a defective boiler while sleeping at a friend’s house in January 2009, the release said.