Carbon monoxide state laws have been evolving in the last 5 to 10 years due to an influx of carbon monoxide gas in home across the country. While still reportedly only about 500 individuals are killed and about fifteen thousand are seen by medical professionals for treatment of symptoms caused by carbon monoxide poisoning each year, these comparatively small numbers reflect a concern for health for the rest of us. This dangerously lethal gas that we can neither see nor smell can catch us completely unawares, and some state legislatures have decided that we need to do our part to catch it in its tracks. Here is a list of some of the state requirements for CO detectors and CO laws.
Note: These laws are not all-inclusive; check with your state or local housing department for further details of legislation for the area in which you live.
The states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin (on each floor level except the attic, garage, or storage area) require that all homes have a working carbon monoxide detector in their homes. Some are more specific and mention that these are required in homes with single families and with attached or enclosed garages, fireplaces, or fossil fuel burning heaters or appliances, such as California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York. Others require them by law for all new residential homes, specifically Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan (for new homes with transient tenants), New York (all homes built or sold after 2002), Oregon, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia; these are for all new residences built after a certain date.
Additionally, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington specifically require that carbon monoxide detectors have an alarm on them. A state fire marshal or other authority figure must approve all CO alarms in the states of California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. In Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Vermont, the CO detectors must be placed in the rooms intended for sleeping in or within a certain amount of feet from those rooms. This distance is typically between 10 and 15 feet. Another requirement in some states like Maine (for new homes) and Vermont is that the carbon monoxide detectors are both electrically hardwired AND battery powered. North Carolina specifies by law that every enclosed space with fossil fuel or that shares a wall, ceiling, or floor with an enclosed space with fossil fuel have a CO detector.
In Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon (with an alarm), Rhode Island, and Washington (for state built or state funded rental housing), rental apartments must also have carbon monoxide alarms installed. The laws indicate that they are supposed to be provided by the landlord in Montana and Oregon; however, in Oregon the law indicates that the tenants are responsible for replacing batteries and testing the detectors at least once every 6 months. Tenants are legally forbidden from tampering with pre-installed carbon monoxide detectors in Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia (but tenants can install their own device), and Wisconsin.
Other Buildings or Housing
A few states have public building requirements for carbon monoxide detectors, such as in schools, daycare facilities, or public housing; these states are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey (unless proven that there is no risk), North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont. Also, the state of Tennessee requires that all recreation vehicles have carbon monoxide detectors in them.
Not every state’s carbon monoxide laws are listed here. And while not every state has passed a law requiring the use of carbon monoxide detectors in homes, there may be local laws in your area. Be sure to contact your local housing department for more information on the subject. But even if your state is not on this list and your local region does not require them be law, CO alarms are usually very affordable (they can be anywhere between $15 and $50) and can last as many as 5 years or more. Being that a carbon monoxide detector is not expensive and may save your life, that might be a greater motivation than state legislature.