Federal Bill Would Ensure Quality Protection for Americans From the 'Silent Killer'

Apr 01, 2009, 16:01 ET from Kidde

Act Builds on Momentum of States to Pass Laws Requiring CO alarms

MEBANE, N.C., April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Approximately every nine minutes, a fire department in the US responds to a residential carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. To help protect families from this silent killer, 19 states have passed laws requiring CO alarms in certain residences. Now, US Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT) has introduced the "Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act," which if enacted, would expand the level of protection by creating a mandatory guideline for these life-saving devices.

Currently, residential CO alarms may comply with a voluntary standard, known as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034, and most states with CO alarm laws mandate that they meet this standard. Congressman Matheson's bill would require all CO alarms to comply with UL 2034 in order to be sold in the US.

"Kidde commends Congressman Matheson on his commitment to safety," said John Andres, vice-president of engineering for Kidde Residential & Commercial, the leading manufacturer of residential CO alarms. "Kidde has a long history of developing quality products, and we support this bill. By making UL 2034 the basis of a federal standard, this act would ensure a baseline performance measure."

Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, claiming 500 lives and sending another 20,000 to the emergency room each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is produced by fossil fuel-burning appliances, which under certain circumstances, including malfunction or improper ventilation, can cause CO to build up in a home.

"Because you can't see, smell or taste carbon monoxide, a family must have confidence that its CO alarm will alert them when danger occurs," said Andres. "Kidde's CO alarms are rigorously tested to obtain third-party approval and meet UL 2034. In addition, we test 100-percent of our CO sensors and all of our alarms bear the UL mark."

The safest known way to detect carbon monoxide is to install a working CO alarm. Industry reports show that in 2008, nearly 50% of U.S. homes had a CO alarm. However, a recent survey by Kelton Research shows that only about half of those homes (27%) have more than one alarm installed. Fire safety experts such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend placing CO alarms on each floor and near sleeping areas. The majority of states with CO laws require this placement as well.

Matheson's bill would set up a grant program to assist states that pass residential CO alarm requirements in raising awareness.

Residential CO alarms are available at home improvement retailers, mass merchants and via the Web. For more information, visit www.knowaboutco.com.

About Kidde

As the world's largest manufacturer of fire safety products, Kidde's mission is to provide solutions that protect people and property from the effects of fire and its related hazards. For more than 90 years industry leaders, the military, airlines and firefighters have relied on Kidde to deliver superior fire detection and suppression. Consumers will find that same advanced technology in Kidde's residential and commercial smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers and other life safety products. Based in Mebane, NC, Kidde is part of UTC Fire and Security, which provides fire safety and security solutions to more than one million customers worldwide. Headquartered in Connecticut, UTC Fire & Security is a business unit of United Technologies Corp., which provides high technology products and services to the building and aerospace industries worldwide. More information can be found at www.utcfireandsecurity.com.