You're at your desk, working hard. Then, you start to feel dizzy and nauseous. You didn't eat anything different, but you continue to feel worse. That's exactly what happened to teachers and students at an Atlanta elementary school on Monday. Hazmat crews evacuated the building after 49 students and teachers got sick.
Firefighters say carbon monoxide levels in the school were the highest the department has ever detected in Atlanta. The fire captain said levels were high enough to kill people.
Most of us wouldn't even think about not having a smoke detector in our home. But, when it comes to carbon monoxide, we're a lot less careful.
Right now, only Maryland and Connecticut require carbon monoxide detectors in schools.
Here in the Triad, Guilford County Schools do not have carbon monoxide detectors. However, they have a system in place that refreshes the air in all the classrooms and removes gasses from the air.
"We really believe our kids are safe and their exposure to that would be very remote," Guilford County Schools Director of Maintenance Gerald Greeson said.
Guilford County also bans school buses from idling near classrooms to prevent carbon monoxide from getting into the building. However, the district reviewed its policies again with the fire department after the Atlanta incident.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center spokesperson Mac Ingraham told WFMY News 2, "At Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, we do not have any carbon monoxide producing sources in patient care areas. They are located in the power plant, which is a separate building. This building does have carbon monoxide detectors."
WFMY News 2 also contacted Cone Health. We are waiting for a response.
The Winston-Salem Fire Department told WFMY News 2 most businesses do not have carbon monoxide detectors. However, some don't need them.
"If they do not use propane gas, natural gas or a fuel oil or something of that nature, then there may not be a need for a carbon monoxide detector in there. But, every building that uses some kind of fuel that produces a flame, should have one," Battalion Chief Charlie Hampton said.
The NC State Fire Marshal's office says the biggest area of concern is in the home because you're most vulnerable when you are sleeping. Officials are not as concerned about public places because if people start getting headaches, nausea and fatigue, they'll know something is wrong and will likely get out.
North Carolina law requires carbon monoxide detectors for any new homes that have an attached garage or fuel-fired appliances. State law also requires landlords to provide and install at least one carbon monoxide detector per rental unit, per level.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and toxic gas. Carbon monoxide detectors can range in price from $20 to $50.
Carbon Monoxide Links provided by NC State Fire Marshal's Office:
NCGS 42-42 addresses a requirement that landlords provide and install a minimum of one carbon alarm per rental unit per level: http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_42/GS_42-42.html
The North Carolina Residential Building Code addresses a requirement for CO alarms in residences having a fossil-fuel burning heater, appliance or fireplace, or in any dwelling having an attached garage in Section R315 Carbon Monoxide Alarms:
The above code requirements are also authorized through NCGS 143-138.
NFPA Fire Safety Tips
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms
Source: WFMY News 2
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