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Carbon Monoxide Alarms Required In Washington After Jan. 1

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state is set to join Oregon and Idaho in requiring most homes and rentals to be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms. Washington's new law takes effect on January 1. The detector rules are inspired by preventable tragedies.

Carbon monoxide is sometimes called "the silent killer." Kent, Washington Fire Department Captain Kyle Ohashi says just about every major power outage brings 911 calls that turn out to be related to the colorless, odorless gas.

Ohashi says responders typically find a generator placed too close to the house, or a malfunctioning heater or a charcoal grill brought inside.

"People start to feel flu-like symptoms - nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness," he says. "Oftentimes they call us not realizing what is causing this."

A Washington State law taking effect in the New Year requires all residential properties be equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm. There is a temporary exception for owner-occupied single family homes built before 2009. They'd need an alarm when put up for sale. Washington's law is broader than most because it will eventually cover everywhere people live.

Idaho and Oregon's carbon monoxide detector rules apply only to dwellings with gas appliances or attached garages.

On the Web:

Oregon Carbon Monoxide rules (Oregon Office of State Fire Marshall)

Washington Carbon Monoxide rules info sheet (Seattle Fire Dept.)

Marine dies from carbon monoxide poisoning in Meridian, Idaho (Idaho Statesman, Nov. 2012)

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.