Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Mike Beatty, Commissioner



For Immediate Release                             CONTACT:     Kimberly King, DCA Communications

Friday, December 19, 2008                                                         (404) 679-0615 Office/ (404) 272-5604 Mobile




Georgia Takes Action To Fight Carbon Monoxide-Related Injuries & Deaths

January 1st: Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required For All New Georgia Homes


Atlanta, GA All Georgia homes have one or more smoke detectors.  Ever wonder if these same homes have carbon monoxide detectors?  If they don’t, they should.

Often called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane oil and methane) burn incompletely.  In homes, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide.  Cars or generators that run in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

In recent years, the popularity of carbon monoxide detectors has increased.  Yet, many homes still do not have these safety-enhancing devices.  As well, many citizens remain unfamiliar with the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

CO-Related Injuries Confirm The Need For Greater Awareness Of Safety Risks

An August 2008 Centers For Disease Control (CDC) study cited exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide as a leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States.  From 1999-2004, the “silent killer” was responsible for approximately 450 deaths.  From 1999-2003, carbon monoxide poisoning led to approximately 15,200 emergency room visits each year.

The CDC study highlighted other relevant facts, including:

·         41% of carbon monoxide-related incidents occurred during the winter (in particular the months of December and January);

·         Increased use of home heating systems, exposure to motor vehicle exhaust by stranded motorists during blizzards, use of gasoline-powered generators during & after winter storms and indoor use of charcoal grills, portable stoves and space heaters contributed to the higher percentage of occurrences during winter; and

·         Approximately 73% of carbon monoxide poisoning patients were exposed to the toxic gas in their homes.

A 2007 Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) publication reported similar facts, including:

·         64 Georgia carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in 2005; and

·         Ongoing serious and persistent health effects after exposure to high carbon monoxide levels -even after the carbon monoxide source was removed.

Both the CDC and DHR information cited the proper installation & maintenance of home heating systems, installation of carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of a home and venting cooking & fuel-burning appliances as ways to reduce the safety risks associated with exposure to carbon monoxide.

From Awareness To Advocacy To New Rules For Georgia

In early 2005, Georgia State Senator Gloria Butler read an article about a family whose exposure to carbon monoxide proved fatal.  She researched Georgia’s laws to determine if her own state had any carbon monoxide detector-related regulations.  At that time, Georgia did not.

“When I became aware of the safety and health risks posed by exposure to high carbon monoxide levels, I became an advocate.  Overexposure to carbon monoxide has resulted in countless emergency visits and some deaths.  When my research revealed that these medical situations could be prevented and family safety enhanced if more homes had carbon monoxide detectors, I began a comprehensive campaign to educate Georgians and encourage that these detectors be placed in homes,” said Senator Butler. 

Although her legislation was not passed initially, Senator Butler continued to research this issue. 

In 2008, Senator Butler began working with DCA’s Construction Codes Department.  Together, Senator Butler and DCA staff worked to educate State Codes Advisory Committee members about this important safety issue.  In July 2008, the SCAC recommended a change to the state code.  This change to Georgia’s code was approved by the DCA Board in November 2008.

Effective January 1, 2009, carbon monoxide detectors will be required in all new one- & two-family homes and townhomes of three stories or less.

With this code change, Georgia will become the 16th state with carbon monoxide detector-related statutes.  The National Council of State Legislatures lists Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia as the other states with carbon monoxide-related statutes.

Event Reminds Families To Stay Focused On Safety During Winter Months

Earlier today, State Senator Butler and DCA staffers were joined by several partners and safety advocates, including DeKalb County Fire & Rescue, Home Builders Association of Georgia, The Home Depot, to create awareness of the new law and encourage existing homeowners to equip their homes with carbon monoxide detectors.  The brief press conference was at Village Homes’ Caroll Park Subdivision in Clarkston, GA.

DCA’s Ted Miltiades reminded attendees to remember safety during the holidays.  “The holiday season is a favorite time of year for many Georgians.  As we celebrate and enjoy this time with family and friends, we also want to encourage Georgia families to get carbon monoxide detectors for their homes.  A safe holiday is the best holiday.”

Carbon monoxide detectors are widely available at numerous retail outlets.  Battery operated and electrical units are available.  Most detectors are priced between $20-$50 per unit.  Additional information about carbon monoxide detectors is available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ( or 800-638-2772), National Fire Protection Association ( and the Georgia Department of Human Resources (



About DCA:  The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) was created in 1977 to serve as an advocate for local governments.  As outlined in its mission statement, DCA seeks opportunities that support "partnering with communities to help create a climate of success for Georgia's families and businesses.”  DCA operates a host of state and federal grant programs; serves as the state's lead agency in housing finance and development; promulgates building codes to be adopted by local governments; provides comprehensive planning, technical and research assistance to local governments; and serves as the lead agency for the state's solid waste reduction efforts.  For more information about DCA, please visit


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