Carbon monoxide detectors now required in Louisiana homes

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 1:17 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A law has now been changed in Louisiana after a series of FOX 8 stories highlighted problems with generators and carbon monoxide after Hurricane Ida.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed the law Tuesday, June 21, requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all one or two family homes sold or leased. It also requires any home that has a generator installed to be outfitted with a carbon monoxide detector.

From the South Shore to the North Shore, people across the region reached out to FOX 8 to detail their terrifying experiences with carbon monoxide seeping into their homes from their whole house generators after Hurricane Ida. All of the stories sounded similar.

More: Carbon monoxide worries post-Ida prompt officials to take action

“My entire immediate family almost died from something we did not even know could happen,” Lynn Moore said.

Our reports and an “alarming” number of people affected prompted State Representative Stephanie Hilferty to act.

“I do not want to see a family die,” Hilferty said.

She said she can sympathize with the families because it also happened to her one night after Ida.

“The generator had been running for a while,” Hilferty explained.

Luckily, Hilferty brought a small carbon monoxide detector with her to her mother-in-law’s house, where the family was staying during the storm. That piece of equipment proved life-saving.

“It scares me to think what would have happened,” Hilferty commented.

“I definitely think we dodged a bullet when it relates to deaths, but make no mistake about it, there were people that got sick,” State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said.

Browning helped Hilferty craft her bill, which is now law. It requires any one or two family home sold or leased in Louisiana, starting Jan. 1, 2023, to have a working carbon monoxide detector. It also says that any home that has a generator installed after the new year must have a carbon monoxide detector.

“We save hundreds of people’s lives in Louisiana with working smoke alarms, so I believe this is the right vehicle to possibly get us to the level of protection of carbon monoxide,” Browning explained.

Another part of the problem? The placement of whole-home generators.

“Some of them in between homes, they’re in alleys basically, and that carbon monoxide is building up and seeping in through the eves, through the soffits,” St. Tammany Fire Dist. 1 Chief Chris Kaufmann explains.

Right now, installers rely on instruction manuals from the generator manufacturers to determine the safest place to put a unit. In some parishes, but not all, permits are required for generator placement meaning the parish would also have to determine where the generator goes. But there’s no universal state law detailing how far generators need to be from a home or a neighboring house.

“Many jurisdictions have no restriction on generators,” Browning commented.

While there was plenty of support for a law change and regulating generator placement, it didn’t come to fruition during this legislative session. But after we started asking questions, many local jurisdictions say they’re examining their own ordinances to see what can be done, like in St. Tammany Parish.

Both Rep. Hilferty and Chief Browning see the passage of this bill, getting carbon monoxide detectors into homes, as a major step forward in protecting lives.

“Good things come out of bad things, and certainly this storm and the recovery of this storm was just horrendous on people and the people who experienced problems with generators. We’ve got to seize that and we’ve got to educate and we’ve got to make some change,” Browning said.

“It’s such a simple tool but it’s life-saving technology,” Hilferty commented.

The responsibility to install a carbon monoxide detector will be on the seller, at the time of sale. A landlord will be responsible for installing one in a property up for lease.

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