New Law Requires Smoke and CO Detectors

Are you thinking of buying a home or selling yours after the New Year? If so, you should know a new law goes into effect starting January 1st, requiring older homes to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Christina Fedolfi, of West Hartford, said the new law affects her personally.

"Five years ago, my sister, Caroline, her husband, Parker, my nephew, Owen and my niece, Sophie, died from carbon monoxide poisoning," said Fedolfi.

The Lofgren family was in Aspen for a long weekend getaway. But, there was a problem.

"There was a faulty water heater at the house and the house filled up with lethal levels of carbon monoxide," explained Fedolfi.

Unfortunately, the Lofgrens had no idea that was happening, because the house where they were staying didn't have a carbon monoxide detector. The family died in their sleep.

"Had there been a detector, chances are, they would be alive," stated Fedolfi.

Carbon monoxide poisoning usually happens when heating sources, like furnaces, space heaters or generators aren't working properly and build up carbon monoxide in areas that aren't well-ventilated. The result is toxic; carbon monoxide robs your body of oxygen, and if you don't get immediate help, you can die within minutes of high levels of exposure. According to the state Dept. of Public Health, on average, four people die of carbon monoxide poisoning each year in Connecticut. That statistic, and a tragic Christmas Day fire in 2011 that killed three girls and their grandparents in Stamford, are why state leaders are taking action. When the deadly fire took place, investigators discovered the house didn't have a working smoke detector. Experts say people who die of carbon monoxide poisoning usually don't have CO detectors, either.

Starting January 1st, all one- and two-family homes built before October 2005 must have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Newer homes are already required to have the devices installed.

State Rep. Stephen Dargan of West Haven, co-sponsored the legislation.

"We think that it's a small investment to protect your loved ones within the comforts of your home," said Rep. Dargan.

MaryAnn Hebert, President of the Connecticut Association of Realtors said the law will be enforced when homes are sold.

"At the closing, there will be an affidavit that's signed by the seller saying…they do have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector in the house," said Hebert.

If they don't have the detectors, sellers will be required to provide a $250 credit to the buyer.

"It'll be good for buyers because it'll be one less thing that they have to worry about when they move in," added Hebert.

Carbon monoxide detectors are just as easy to get as smoke detectors. You can find them online or at your local hardware store. They can cost as little as $30.

However, a new alarm alone doesn't guarantee your safety. Chief James O'Brien with the West Haven Fire Dept. said regular check-ups are key.

"It's important to check them once a month and make sure the batteries are changed at least twice a year," said Chief O'Brien.

Christina Fedolfi said the new law is a step in the right direction.

"If you're a parent, you have to protect your kids…this is one really easy peace-of-mind machine to have in your home," said Fedolfi.

Contact Us