Schools Lack Alarms to Warn of Deadly Carbon Monoxide

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Most schools — like the Atlanta elementary school where at least 49 people were treated Monday for carbon monoxide poisoning — are not equipped with alarms to detect the deadly gas.

Only Connecticut and Maryland have laws that require CO alarms in schools, despite the evacuations of more than 3,000 students in at least 19 incidents of high levels of CO at schools since 2007, USA TODAY has found.

Many school administrators say they're unaware of the dangers. But doctors with expertise in carbon monoxide poisoning say the alarms — which the National Fire Protection Association says should be near bedrooms in every home — should be installed in classrooms or hallways.

"The safest solution is CO monitoring in every classroom or, minimally in the hallways and pool areas," says Lindell Weaver, a University of Utah professor of medicine who's written studies on the subject and evaluated more than 1,000 patients with CO poisoning.

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