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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

November 26, 2003

HOLIDAY GIVING IS OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE LIVES 

Charlotte, NC - It's not often that a practical Holiday gift can show how much you care.  But the gift of a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm presents the unique opportunity to do just that, since even the person on your gift list who has everything might not be in compliance with upcoming changes to the County's CO ordinance.

The recently updated CO ordinance now covers all dwellings in Mecklenburg County.  On October 8, 2003, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed revisions to the Carbon Monoxide Regulation. Effective January 1, 2004, all dwelling units whether owned or leased, regardless of the source of energy used in the dwelling unit and regardless of whether the dwelling unit has an attached garage, must now contain at least one operable carbon monoxide alarm.

How will the new rules affect you?

· CO alarms are required in all new dwellings.
· Requires alarms to have battery power or battery back-up.
· Includes manufactured homes.
· Requires existing homeowners to install alarms by Jan. 1, 2004 (enforcement would begin on July 1, 2004).
· Requires landlords to install alarms by Jan. 1, 2005.
· Requires landlords to provide alarms before signing new leases or renewals.

One person died and 199 Mecklenburg County residents were treated as a result of CO exposure after last December's ice storm.  In about half those homes, residents did not speak English.  Many of the poisonings were the result of portable sources, such as kerosene heaters, gas or charcoal grills used indoors.  In none of the homes was there a functioning CO alarm. 

It was this data that lead to recommendations that the CO ordinance be changed to include all dwellings.  The previous ordinance only required alarms in dwellings with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages.

Carbon monoxide alarms are available at most hardware, home improvement and discount stores for between $20 and $40. Residents of Mecklenburg County who cannot afford to buy a carbon monoxide alarm can apply for a free alarm by calling City-County Customer Service at 704-336-7600. Callers must be prepared to give their full name, home address and home telephone number. Each resident's income will be verified before an alarm can be installed.

For more information on carbon monoxide go to www.carbonmonoxide1.com.



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