Harrisburg, May 23, 2018 – The state Senate today unanimously approved Sen. Wayne Fontana’s legislation that would require that working carbon monoxide (CO) alarms be installed in childcare centers that use fireplaces or oil/gas-fired furnaces.

“With alarms costing an average of about $20 to $50, this relatively inexpensive mandate would help save lives,” Fontana said. “Hopefully, tying the alarm requirement to licensing will help emphasize the importance of having a CO alarm system in place.”

Often called the “silent killer,” CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the fumes, CO can kill without someone even being aware of its presence. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes effects that often include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

Fontana said the CO alarms provide alerts before lethal levels of the gas can accumulate in buildings. He said carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. More than 20,000 people are hospitalized and about 450 people die annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pennsylvania averages around 73 CO deaths per year.

Under the bill (Senate Bill 439), every child care facility that uses a fossil-fuel-burning heater, appliance, fireplace or is attached to a garage, must have an operational carbon monoxide alarm near the fossil-fuel-burning heater or fireplace — and in every room on that floor. Following an 18-month implementation period, the Department of Human Services would not issue or renew a daycare license until the facility complies.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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