The deadline to install mandatory carbon monoxide detection systems was the end of June for New York businesses, but many still do not have them set up. The law was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in December 2014. It took effect June 2015, but allowed a one year transition period for businesses to still install the systems.

Fire marshals and building inspectors have been working with businesses to have the detection systems set up, but still some businesses do not. It is imperative that businesses have these systems in place. Carbon monoxide can be produced from vehicles, small engines, stoves, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. Inside of a commercial building the most likely sources are furnaces and hot water heaters.

In past cases, the number one reason people are poisoned is a lack of fresh air in the building. While it is important to install CO detectors, it is also important to make sure the building is designed with a source of fresh air.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly. It cuts off oxygen to the brain and allows for toxins to build up without a proper exhaust. This can cause serious brain damage if not death. The hippocampus is particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning because it is at the end of the route of oxygen to the brain. This is the brain’s memory center, which is why people have problems with memory after carbon monoxide poisonings.

Smaller New York businesses can install a CO detector that costs about $30. For bigger businesses, the undertaking is more involved. If the business has hard-wired smoke alarms, it must install a hard-wired carbon monoxide detection system as well. This can cost the business thousands of dollars.

Babylon Town Public Safety has visited about 5,000 businesses this year, and they notified 300 that they are not in compliance. Installing a hard-wired carbon monoxide detection system can be difficult and expensive, but it is very important. About 400 people die in the United States every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, and about 20,000 are hospitalized, according to the CDC.

The law is called Steven Nelson’s law after a restaurant manager who died from a carbon monoxide leak in February 2014. Many more were sickened. The building did not have a carbon monoxide detection system in place.

The Huntington Fire Marshal has been receiving about 15 calls a week about the new law.

Two weeks ago, five were hospitalized from a West Babylon ShopRite carbon monoxide poisoning. A faulty oven in the bakery was leaking carbon monoxide, and the air conditioning and ventilation systems were spreading the gas. The store’s owner was in the process of installing the carbon monoxide detection system to comply with the state law that requires businesses to have them. For a look at other states’ laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors, click here.

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