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Atlanta Carbon Monoxcide Scare — Will Georgia Mandate Detectors in Schools?

iStock_000016154978XSmall.jpgEarlier this month, the potentially lethal gas, carbon monoxide, sent 30 students and 10 adults from Atlanta’s Finch Elementary School to the hospital. Thankfully, none of these students became seriously ill. After the incident, lawmakers and parents voiced concerns that carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in schools. They are mandatory in Georgia for new residential construction. As an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, I would like to share some of the issues being considered for our schools and the dangers of this gas with readers as we move into the colder months here in Georgia.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death and is produced when fossil fuels are burned in a furnace, vehicle, generator, grill, or elsewhere. The danger is that this gas can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces which in turn can lead to poisoning of people and animals that are in the area of the gas. During the winter months, this is most dangerous due to the use of heating in our homes and apartments.

Georgia law requires that “carbon monoxide detectors be installed in general sleeping areas in all new one- and two-family homes and townhomes of three stories or less.” (Source: Section R313.4.1 of the Georgia State Minimum Standard One and Two Family Dwelling Code adopted pursuant to Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 8-2-20.) This protection ensures that at least going forward, many families will be protected against this lethal gas which has no color and no odor. But will the legislature require these detectors in our schools?

The Georgia legislature could take this issue up in its next legislative session. The recent school carbon monoxide scare caused such symptoms of nausea. The boiler at the school was thought to have been the cause of this dangerous situation, as the levels of carbon monoxide taken in the boiler room were excessive.

What is so frightening is that this gas, if breathed for short periods of time in high enough concentrations, can result in a person becoming unconscious and dying. The cost of requiring carbon monoxide detectors in schools is something that will undoubtedly be raised if any legislation on this is introduced in Georgia’s legislature.

According to reports, only Connecticut and Maryland mandate that schools maintain these detectors. The cost of these detectors depends on the quality and quantity needed for every school. The local districts may need to determine whether there is sufficient danger for kids and teachers to warrant installing detectors in their schools. After the scare earlier this month, some schools might install these district by district at their own expense.

In Cobb County for example, the district is determining the “feasibility of installing detectors in the district’s 114 school buildings.” There are some who believe it is an important safety precaution and others who do not. Similarly, other school districts in the area are now looking into studying the expense and risks involved in the determination as to whether to install voluntarily or not.


If you or a loved one have suffered personal injury in an accident or due to the negligence of another person or product manufacturer, please contact me at any time to evaluate your legal matter at no cost. The Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, P.C., guides families through legal and medical recovery after an accident or injury. We are here to help you.

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