Senator Browne Introduces Legislation to Make PA Homes Safer


SB 920 would take measures to protect families from carbon monoxide poisoning

Harrisburg, PA – State Senator Pat Browne (R-16) today (March 30) introduced Senate Bill 920, legislation which would require homeowners, upon the sale of their home, to demonstrate that the home is equipped with a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.

For the past several years, Pennsylvania has had the highest number of accidental CO poisoning deaths in the country.  Because the gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless, CO alarms are the only safe way to know if carbon monoxide is present in your home, and will alert you to its presence before it becomes harmful or fatal.  CO poisoning kills about 500 people and sends more than 15,000 people to emergency rooms annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Carbon Monoxide is a serious problem not only in the Commonwealth but across the country. This legislation will allow added prevention measures to families to ensure their safety.  With the cost of these detectors being at a minimum cost, I feel it is a small price to pay to protect individuals in these homes,” said Senator Browne.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 83 percent of PA housing uses some form of fossil fuel-burning heating, which can generate CO.  The requirements of the law would apply only to homes and multi-family dwellings (such as apartments) that have fossil fuel-burning heaters or appliances and/or an attached garage.  Apartments would be required to install an alarm following the law’s effective date.

CO incidents occur more frequently in colder weather, mainly due to the increased use of fuel-burning heating systems, fireplaces and gas generators.  This past winter in Pennsylvania has been no exception, with CO poisoning incidents reported across the state.

Just two weeks ago, three members of an Allentown family were sickened when CO drifted into their apartment from a propane heater on the floor below.  A work crew had been painting on that floor during the day, and were using the heater to keep themselves warm; not properly ventilating the building.  Shortly after the crew left the building, the family was taken to the hospital.

According to Assistant Chief Lee Laubach with the Allentown Fire Department, “the most important step you can take to eliminate CO poisoning is the installation of CO alarms.  Your senses cannot detect this gas since it is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so the best protection is a detector.  Fire Departments encourage CO detectors in the homes, since they are just as important as smoke detectors.”

“I am hopeful that this legislation will be considered in the Senate quickly so that we can prevent deaths by this silent killer, via an inexpensive alarm,” said Senator Browne.