Our Palm Beach County injury attorney was saddened to hear about an elderly couple from Boca Raton who passed away in their home this week as the apparent result of carbon monoxide poisoning. The couple, whose names have not yet been released to the media, were in their 70s. Some friends of the couple came to their home to pick them up and drive them to the airport. Because the couple had a plane to catch and should have been ready to go, the friends quickly became alarmed when no one answered the door. Fearing that something was terribly wrong, they first attempted to trip the alarm in the home and then called police. According to the Palm Beach post, when police and fire rescue crews arrived on the scene and entered the home, they discovered the bodies of the two residents. They had apparently been dead for several days, and the carbon monoxide levels in the house were very high.
Stories like this one are always particularly difficult to accept because carbon monoxide poisoning can so easily be prevented. Carbon monoxide is a gas that cannot be seen or smelled. Therefore, a room could be filling up with carbon monoxide without anyone realizing it until it is too late. If the leak is slow enough, there may be some warning ahead of time in the form of headache, dizziness, nausea, and even disorientation or confusion. Having a carbon monoxide detector in your home is the ideal way to prevent poisoning. Carbon monoxide detectors are commercially available and relatively inexpensive, and they can be used to warn residents if carbon monoxide reaches an unsafe level in the home. It is, of course, important to test these detectors regularly and remember to replace the batteries.
Our Palm Beach carbon monoxide poisoning lawyer knows that in Florida, not all buildings are required by law to have carbon monoxide detectors. As with most safety regulations and precautions, homeowners are free to decide whether or not to install detectors in their own houses, and there is no law that specifically states that landlords must place one in every apartment. There is, however, a Florida carbon monoxide law that requires buildings that have carbon monoxide poisoning risks and that undertake any new construction after July 1, 2008 to have a detector within 10 feet of any room used for sleeping purposes. In hotels, this means that the detectors can be placed in the hallways, rather than having one in every room. In apartment buildings, however, there should probably be one in each apartment.
Florida residents should speak to their landlords about whether they have detectors and how best to maintain them in proper working order. Even if a building has not had any new construction since 2008, residents can still speak to their landlords or property managers about whether the building’s fuel system puts it at risk for carbon monoxide leaks and ask them to install detectors to ensure resident safety. Of course, even if the landlord or manager refuses to install detectors, residents are still free to purchase and install their own. Considering the risk, it is often a sensible decision.
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