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New law requires CO monitors in rentals

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Most people know about smoke detectors, but experts say protecting yourself against carbon monoxide is just as important. While smoke detectors are already required in rental units, a new state law went into effect Friday requiring landlords to install a carbon monoxide alarm in each level of a rental unit.

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when a fuel source burns incompletely. A carbon monoxide alarm gives you a warning that could save your life. That’s why a new state law requires landlords to install a battery-operated or electric carbon monoxide alarm in rental units. The law only applies to renters with a current or new lease, who have a fossil-fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace or garage.

Fire and Life Safety Educator Meg Langston of the Wilmington Fire Department says everyone should have one, just in case.

“We recommend that you have at least one on each level,” Langston said. “And depending on your carbon monoxide alarm, it’s going to tell you to install it in different locations.”

It’s also important to have a working smoke alarm. There are two types. An ionization smoke alarm detects flaming, fast moving fires first. A photoelectric smoke alarm detects smoldering fires first. Experts say your best bet is to get a combination smoke alarm and a separate carbon monoxide alarm. But any protection is better than no protection.

In 2005, the most recent year statistics are available, firefighters across the country responded to 61,000 carbon monoxide incidents. January and December were the peak months.

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While smoke detectors are already required in rental units, a new state law went into effect Friday requiring landlords to install a carbon monoxide alarm in each level of a rental unit.

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