Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Senior Councilman Anthony Santino, the Hempstead Town Board, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin and Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad are taking action to prevent future carbon monoxide tragedies. In response to a recent death involving carbon monoxide poisoning, Murray and Santino, along with members of the town board, are proposing a local town law that will require restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, gyms, churches, movie theaters, catering facilities and other places of public assembly to install carbon monoxide detectors to ensure the safety of the public.
“Carbon monoxide has been called the ‘silent killer’ because it is odorless, you can’t see it and it has no taste,” stated Murray. “However, Hempstead Town won’t be silent when it comes to the ‘silent killer.’ I am calling for a law that will result in a simple, cost-effective solution to carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, and is produced by automobiles, stoves, burning wood or charcoal and heating systems. People who are exposed to a small amount of carbon monoxide for a short period of time can experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, loss of consciousness and even death. According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning per year, and more than 20,000 people are taken to the emergency room as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“We’re taking action to ensure that carbon monoxide poisoning does not occur in restaurants and other places where people gather,” said Santino. “Our law could spell the difference between life and death.”
Currently, the New York State fire code only requires carbon monoxide detectors in residential homes, but not in commercial structures. Hempstead Town has jurisdiction over places of public assembly (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, bowling alleys, gyms, catering halls, etc.). Accordingly, Murray and Santino will call for a hearing to amend the Town Code, Chapter 96 (Places of Public Assembly, Licensing) at the March 11th Town Board meeting. A hearing will then be held on March 25th at 10:30 a.m. at Hempstead Town Hall.
The amendment will require all new places of public assembly to have carbon monoxide detectors hard-wired, and existing businesses to have standard detectors that plug into electrical outlets. The amendment will require detectors on any floor where carbon monoxide-producing devices exist (furnaces, hot water heaters, stoves, etc.) and also one floor above those devices.
“I think that legislation like this is thoughtful and can save lives,” said Clavin. “At the same time, it does not place a significant financial burden on businesses.”
While the town has jurisdiction over places of public assembly and the state has regulations covering homes, there are no regulations affecting commercial buildings such as office buildings, factories, shopping stores, etc. Murray has said that she and Santino will call upon the State Legislature to address those facilities through the state’s fire code.
The officials also noted that carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and can cost as little as $20. Murray and Clavin stated that there should be no reason not to install carbon monoxide detectors.
“Carbon monoxide is commonly referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because the gas cannot be seen or smelled,” concluded Supervisor Murray. “However, knowledge is power. Carbon monoxide detectors alert residents and businesses that people are in danger of exposure. I am proud to be sponsoring legislation that could help prevent another carbon monoxide tragedy from occurring.”