Last December, a 23-year-old Tampa woman was awakened by her two carbon monoxide detectors at 4 A.M. Everything seemed fine in her condo, but she called the fire department just in case–a decision that saved her life, as well as several others’.
A neighbor had accidentally left her car running in the building’s attached garage, sending poisonous gas into the units above. All of the residents were evacuated by firefighters, including the car’s owner, who was found unresponsive in her condo and was carried to safety.
In Florida, carbon monoxide detectors have been required in new buildings with gas appliances, fireplaces, and attached garages since 2008. However, this condo was built in 2004. Not a single resident would have been alerted of the threat had the woman’s mother not insisted that she install carbon monoxide detectors in her condo earlier that year.
An eerily similar story had a more tragic ending in 2011. Another Tampa woman–also 23 years old–succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning after a neighbor left his car running in the garage adjacent to her apartment. The woman’s roommate woke up feeling sick; she attempted to call 911 several times but kept passing out. By the time that she was able to complete the call, her roommate was unresponsive.
Whether or not carbon monoxide detectors are legally required where you live, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. More than 430 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, and over 50,000 visit the emergency room. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and can take a life within 15 minutes.
Dr. Alfred Aleguas, the managing director of Florida’s Poison Information Center at the Tampa General Hospital, explains why carbon monoxide is so lethal:
“Carbon monoxide prevents molecules in the blood from absorbing oxygen. Exposure to carbon monoxide in the air means that most people are used to carbon monoxide concentrations of 1 or 2 percent, and smokers to concentrations of 8 or 10 percent. At that level, some may experience a low-level headache, and at 20 percent it’s common to experience nausea and vomiting. At 30 percent or higher, the heart and brain begin to shut down and there can be lasting effects, such as memory loss or seizures, that can take months or even years to clear. Any concentration above 50 percent is potentially lethal.”
We strongly advise making carbon monoxide detectors a requirement within your building or community. Then, you can work with a property manager to make sure that they’re properly installed and maintained over time. It only takes 1 step to find the right partner to work with your association on this and other important tasks: Click here to start your search for a property manager now.
Robin Burinskiy is the Senior Content Writer and Managing Editor for the All Property Management Blog and Buildium Blog. She cut her teeth as a marketing copywriter at Wayfair and TechTarget, and she spends her free time perfecting her lifestyle blog, Feather & Flint. She holds degrees in psychology, sociology, and songwriting.