According to the New York City Fire Department, approximately 500 Americans die every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide, a naturally occurring gas, produces fumes that are undetectable by human senses, but can be deadly in enclosed spaces.
Local Law 7 mandates that residential buildings in New York City install CO detectors in every dwelling unit. Carbon monoxide detectors are a necessary part of every household, as the majority of carbon monoxide poisoning incidents occur in enclosed settings. Many household items produce carbon monoxide fumes at normal levels, but these same items, if left damaged or improperly installed, can raise carbon monoxide levels and lead to a hazardous, or even deadly, situation. New Yorkers may also be exposed to a higher level of carbon monoxide than residents living in other areas of the U.S since exhaust from cars and trucks produces carbon monoxide.
Regardless of where you live, the risk of CO poisoning from overexposure is greatest during the winter months due to the increased use of heating equipment. The New York State Department of Health advises that carbon monoxide poisoning should be suspected if more than one member of the family is sick and if they feel better after being away from home for a period of time.
Installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide detector in your home and building communal spaces is really the only way to fully protect yourself and neighbors. Test the alarm once a month, and change the battery every year.
In co-ops and condos, Local Law 7 holds building or unit owners responsible for the installation and upkeep of CO detectors. The Department of Buildings website also cites the relevancy of the individual building’s proprietary lease, bylaws, or condominium declaration in determining the party ultimately responsible for providing detectors. Similarly, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) states that the co-op/condo board and shareholders are responsible for determining who oversees the installation. Not sure who in your building to ask about CO detectors? You can always talk to your managing agent who, at a minimum, should be aware of installation and maintenance of CO detectors for your building.