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CO safety law somewhat unknown; No CO detectors in Skokie apartments where people sickened

Thursday, December 19, 2013
No CO detectors common despite law Carbon monoxide injures 12 in Skokie Carbon monoxide hospitalizes 12 in Skokie
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Twelve residents of a north suburban Skokie apartment building were released from the hospital after a carbon monoxide leak. No one was seriously injured.

The Skokie Fire Department was called to an apartment building in the 8000 block of Keating in Skokie. A resident of the building called 911 around 2:45 a.m. Thursday after feeling ill. Emergency officials brought the people outside, gave them oxygen, and took some to the hospital.

The Skokie crews, like many in the Chicago area, are equipped with carbon monoxide meters. Those arriving on the scene found an extremely high CO level. There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the apartment building, which are required by law.

"They have to be installed within 15 feet of every premise that's used for sleeping purposes," Deputy Chief Barr Liss, Skokie Fire Department, said. "The landlords must provide a working carbon monoxide detector at that point. Once it's installed in the correct location of each of the units provided, then it is up for the renter to maintain that detector."

While that's been the law for nearly seven years, it's up to the homeowner or landlord to install the carbon monoxide detectors. And it's up to tenants to make sure they're operational.

On Thursday, Chicago Fire Department officials and First Alert handed out free CO detectors. They say carbon monoxide is a serious threat and many people don't know about the law.

"We know that about 95 percent of homes have one working smoke detector but the number of CO monitors is only about 42-percent, so we have a big job ahead of us," Robert Adler, Consumer Product Safety Commission, said.

In Skokie, fire investigators said they believe the carbon monoxide fumes came from a faulty furnace in the five-unit apartment complex.

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