Skip directly to content

Washington Passed a New CO Law in January 2013

In January 2013 Washington passed a new CO Law. It makes carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in new single-family homes and all new and existing apartments and rental houses. According to the Seattle Fire Department Carbon monoxide killed over one thousand residents of Washington state between the years of 1990 and 2005.

Washington is among an increasing number of states with CO legislation. As thoroughly described by an interactive CO Legislation map developed by Quantum Group Inc. , which makes the most reliable carbon monoxide alarms, sensors and detectors, 40 states had such legislation as of March 2013. Such requirements have created a boost in demand nationwide for CO detectors, alarms and sensors. 

Overall the legislation has really driven the business over the last few years. 

But there may be some delay before local dealers feel the effect of carbon monoxide laws in business, such as the one the Washington state CO Legislature approved. After the law is implemented by the authorities, it takes a while for it truly to take effect—before dealers understand the law and its consequences.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

The new Washington law requires CO alarms in most residential buildings, as stated by the Seattle Fire Department’s website Still current owner-occupied single-family homes are exempt from the requirement. But if a homeowner performs interior remodeling that requires a building permit, a CO detector has to be added. Additionally, if the house is sold, Carbon Monoxide alarms have to be installed before a new owner moves in.

While the fire department notes the alarms can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores, the most important is to purchase a false alarm free device. 

If there’s a high concentration of CO, a lot of times the brain is starving for oxygen and you’re relying on a homeowner or someone to make that decision and lot of times their decision is to unplug the alarm. Still today many doctors misdiagnose those symptoms as the flu because they are very similar and the CO is odorless and it’s tasteless. The person always knows when there’s smoke in a building, but they don’t necessarily know when there’s CO in a building.

When the alarm sounds the homeowner often thinks, ‘I’m fine, it’s just false alarming.’ As in reality if it is not a false alarm. You need to leave the home; otherwise you would be dead in 20 minutes.

Mark K. Goldstein, Ph.D. is talking about the reasons carbon monoxide poisoning gets misdiagnosed.