Is Amanda's Law enough to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

Wednesday, February 22nd marks the 2nd anniversary of the law named in honor of Amanda Hansen, a teenage girl who lost her life to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from a defective boiler in Buffalo.

Amanda's Law says carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in all homes and apartments that have fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage.

While Amanda's Law requires carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in homes, there is no law requiring annual testing of CO levels, and this has one Central New York contractor concerned.

Herb Smith, owner of Breathe Easy CNY Heating and Cooling, is taking this anniversary very seriously. He says he makes a point to conduct multiple CO checks at every home his company services, and for no extra charge.

The CDC reports that from 1999-2004, there was an average of of 439 unintentional deaths from CO poisoning, and it is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized by CO each year.

Smith believes that the national average number of CO poisoning deaths is a low number. "That number is based upon the number of reported cases," Smith says. "Based on the number of CO levels I see every year in homes as part of our regular testing, that number has to be low."

Over the past year, Smith says he has asked at least two families to leave their homes temporarily because of dangerously elevated CO levels. He's also asked another four families to open their windows because of elevated levels.

"That's just here in Syracuse," Smith says.

"There is no annual testing of CO levels required, " Smith says.

Smith says he is so concerned about CO that he will go into homes just to test for CO levels.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer; you cannot see it, smell it, or taste it. The only safe way to detect it is with a carbon monoxide alarm. They cost around $20-50 and are available at many stores.

Click here for more information about CO from the EPA.