Amanda’s Law

On February 22, 2010, “Amanda’s Law” took effect. The law mandates the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all homes in New York State. The law is named for 16-year-old Amanda Hansen of West Seneca, NY, who died on January 17, 2009 due to a carbon monoxide leak from a defective boiler while she was sleeping at a friend’s house.

The reason for the law is simple: CO poisoning is the #1 cause of poisoning deaths in the United States and can be prevented by detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors can save lives.

The law requires carbon monoxide detectors in every 1-2 family property; apartments in a multiple dwelling; and all condominium and cooperative apartments where the dwelling unit has appliances, devices or systems that may emit carbon monoxide or has an attached garage.

Under the law, homes built before January 2008 are permitted to have battery-powered CO alarms, while homes built after that date are required to have the alarms hard-wired into the building. Previously, only homes built or bought after July 30, 2002 were required to have these devices installed.

Additionally, Amanda’s Law will require contractors in New York State to install a CO alarm when replacing a hot water tank or furnace if the home is not equipped with an alarm.

Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning any type of fuel, including gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, oil, wood or coal. If any flammable material burns incompletely, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless, can kill within minutes or over a longer period of time depending on the amount that is in the air.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and can include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting and confusion. By the time people realize there is a problem, they are often too sick or too disoriented to get out of the house and get help.

CO detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores and home centers as well as many grocery stores.