FLORENCE, Ky. - Only two states in the country, Maryland and Connecticut, require carbon monoxide detectors in schools.
Which means if you live in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana whether, or not, your child's school has carbon monoxide detectors is determined by your local school district. Some districts are further along than others.
"Carbon monoxide is a combination of a carbon and an oxygen molecule and is typically a bi-product of combustion," said Cpt. William Fletcher of the Hebron Fire Protection District.
The odorless, colorless gas can kill if someone is exposed to a high enough level.
"You're going to get dizzy. You'll be light-headed, some nausea and a headache," said Fletcher describing the symptoms of CO exposure.
Some school districts, like Boone County Schools, have systems aimed at preventing leaks in the first place.
Schools which use natural gas for heat are equipped with fail-safe mechanisms that will shut the boiler down if it isn't burning correctly thereby preventing potential leaks of carbon monoxide.
"They are also in boiler rooms that are far away from where the students are. So, should there be a situation we feel comfortable that it would not get to the students," said Deputy Superintendent Mike Blevins.
Districts with buildings much older in age, like Cincinnati Public Schools, have a greater challenge. A CPS spokeswoman told 9 News the district has roughly 75 percent of its buildings equipped with either detection systems or fail-safe boilers. The district is working with the Cincinnati Fire Department to install temporary detectors while it works to retrofit its older schools.
The cost of retrofitting isn't an easy proposition. In some cases it can cost $500,000, or more, to properly install a modern detection system and alarm.
Not required by law:
Fletcher explains that most states adopt into law guidelines put forth by the National Fire Prevention Association. Those guidelines, however, can be altered by a state legislature prior to adoption.
Currently NFPA recommendations do not include carbon monoxide detection for schools. However, the NFPA recommendations will change in 2014 to include carbon monoxide detectors or alarms for "educational occupancies" like schools and daycare centers.
It will still be up to each state if it chooses to follow the recommendations.
Fletcher believes school districts shouldn't wait, "I think it is incumbent upon the school districts, when they recognize those vulnerabilities and hazards within their facilities, to take proactive measures to go ahead and install detection equipment and/or some other fail-safe to prevent carbon monoxide from accumulating within their buildings."
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