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When some laws get passed, we may not even realize it. Back in 2006, a Massachusetts law known as "Nicole’s Law" became effective, which requires carbon monoxide detectors be installed and maintained in most residences. The law is named after 7-year old Nicole Garofalo who died in 2005 when her Plymouth home was filled with deadly amounts of carbon monoxide. The furnace vents had been blocked by snow during a power outage.

While many people know about CO detectors and know they are a “good idea”, many still don't have them, which is a violation of the law. Any home that contains fossil-fuel burning equipment, such as a furnace, boiler, water heater, fireplace, etc., or incorporates enclosed parking within its structure must be equipped with approved carbon monoxide detectors.

Landlords are required to inspect, maintain, and replace, if necessary, required CO alarms annually and at the beginning of any rental period. Tenants should alert landlords if there are any problems and should be able to distinguish between smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Each year more than 150 people die from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products. The detectors should be installed on every level of a home, even the basement or attic.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, colorless and tasteless gas produced whenever any fuel, such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal, is burned. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Carbon Monoxide is the #1 cause of poisoning deaths in the USA. A small amount of Carbon Monoxide can poison you slowly over a long period of time; larger amounts can kill you immediately.


• Most local hardware stores carry carbon monoxide detectors. 
• Your Carbon Monoxide detector needs to be approved and certified by a nationally recognized
   testing institute, such as the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). 
• Replace detectors every 5-7 years. 
• Batteries should be changed every year.

Poisoning symptoms

• Headache
• Nausea 
• Dizziness 
• Confusion 
• Fainting/ Unconsciousness 
• Death

When a detector sounds

What you need to do if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off depends on whether anyone is feeling ill or not.

If no one is feeling ill:

1. Silence the alarm.
2. Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
3. Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
4. Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

If illness is a factor:

1. Evacuate all occupants immediately.
2. Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
3. Call your local emergency number and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the
    number of people feeling ill.
4. Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
5. Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO.

Additional questions:

Your local Fire Department is the best resource if you have specific questions about Carbon Monoxide detector requirements.

Massachusetts Carbon Monoxide Detector information >  

Carbon Monoxide Detector Requirements, Laws & Regulations >


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