SOURCE: Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

December 28, 2006 15:00 ET

New Carbon Monoxide Detector Law in Illinois Effective January 1

NORTHBROOK, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 28, 2006 -- Beginning Monday, January 1, Illinois homeowners, landlords and owners of occupied buildings with one or more sleeping areas will be required to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, in accordance with the Illinois Carbon Monoxide Detector Act.

"The law applies to occupancies that use fossil fuel such as natural gas for residential heating, cooking and hot water heating, as well as occupancies connected to a residential garage," said David Foreman, Illinois state fire marshal. "CO alarms must be installed within 15 feet of all rooms used for sleeping."

"Also make sure CO alarms are 15 to 30 feet away from furnaces and other sources of natural gas combustion," John Drengenberg, consumer affairs manager for Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., said. "This helps keep local fire departments from having to respond to a false alarm situation."

Carbon monoxide alarms may be battery operated, plug-in with battery back-up or wired into the home's AC power with a secondary battery back-up. They also must bear the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as UL, and must comply with the most recent safety standards.

Known as the silent killer, CO is an odorless, colorless gas produced by incomplete burning of fuel, such as propane, natural gas, kerosene, gasoline, oil, wood and charcoal. Sources of CO in homes can include malfunctioning gas-fired appliances, space heaters and chimney flues. Each year more than 500 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Most deaths (64 percent) occur inside homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Symptoms of CO poisoning include nausea, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, breathing difficulty and confusion -- but they are general enough to be confused with the flu," according to Dr. Jerrold Leikin, director of Medical Toxicology for Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Illinois. "CO alarms are designed to alert residents before carbon monoxide concentrations grow to toxic levels, often giving homeowners hours of advance notice."

In addition to installing CO alarms, the Illinois Office of State Fire Marshal and UL offer the following tips to prevent CO poisoning and what to do if your alarm goes off:

--  Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and
    chimneys to ensure they operate correctly and that nothing blocks the
    vapors from being vented out of the house
--  Test your CO alarm monthly and replace the battery annually
--  Make sure all family members know the difference between the sound of
    a CO alarm and smoke alarm
--  Never ignore a CO alarm. If your CO alarm sounds, immediately operate
    the reset/silence button and call your fire department or 9-1-1
--  After a CO alarm goes off, move to fresh air, either outside or to an
    open window or door. Account for every household member
--  Don't re-enter your home or move away from the open door or window
    until the emergency services have arrived, the home is sufficiently aired
    out and the CO alarm doesn't reactivate
--  If your CO alarm reactivates within a 24-hour period, repeat the steps
    above and call a qualified technician to examine your appliances, identify
    the source of CO, and make any appropriate repairs
Note to Editors and Reporters

To help educate consumers on the legislation and raise awareness of carbon monoxide and CO alarms, David Foreman, Illinois State Fire Marshal, and John Drengenberg, manager of consumer affairs for UL, are available for interviews. Foreman can discuss specifics of the new law. Drengenberg can discuss CO alarm installation best practices, how the alarms work and UL's stringent CO alarm safety standards.

For more information about carbon monoxide safety, go to or

About UL

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products and writing Standards for Safety for more than 110 years. UL, headquartered in Northbrook, Ill., tests more than 19,000 types of products annually, and more then 20 billion UL Marks appear on products each year. Worldwide, UL's family of companies and its network of service providers include 62 laboratories, and testing and certification facilities.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:

    Joe Hirschmugl
    UL Media Relations Supervisor
    847-830-1404 (cell)
    Email Contact

    Amy McEvoy
    Account Supervisor
    UL/Rhea & Kaiser
    630-248-4390 (cell)
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    Patti Thompson
    Office of State Fire Marshal
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