UPDATE 8/15/12 @ 6:10 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A deadly carbon monoxide leak has sparked some big changes in West Virginia.
Dozens of hotel guests became ill and one man died when high CO levels leaked from a pool pump into the Holiday Inn Express in South Charleston in January.
The hotel did not have CO detectors at the time because West Virginia state law didn't require them. However, that is about to change.
A new law set to take effect Sept. 1 requires them in hotels, motels, rental properties, boarding houses, dormitories, and adult and child care facilities.
They also will be required in newly constructed buildings starting Jan. 1.
For now, CO detectors are not required in regular homes that aren’t rented, but emergency officials hope homeowners will take that responsibility into their own hands.
“You need to have these (CO detectors) in your home,” Charleston Fire Lt. Alisha Samples said. “You might not think that it would be a problem.”
But it can be a problem if you have fuel burning appliances inside your home.
Colorless, odorless and tasteless, carbon monoxide can take anyone by surprise.
“Once you get to a certain level you become confused, you get headaches, nausea, vomiting. You may just think you have flu-like symptoms,” Samples said.
Whether it's a requirement or just a suggestion, emergency officials are asking you to take a few minutes to install an alarm.
The Charleston Fire Department just received 150 carbon monoxide alarms from First Alert.
For information about getting one for your home, just call the fire department at (304) 348-8058. If you do not live in Charleston, your local fire department may be able to help.
Any place within city limits required to have carbon monoxide alarms will be enforced by either the building and/or fire department.
It's still unclear who will enforce the law for places outside city limits.
The newly formed Kanawha County Carbon Monoxide Task force held a news conference Thursday morning to release the results of its preventative study.
The leaders all agree raising public awareness is the key to saving lives.
Members tell WSAZ.com several businesses, including local grocery stores are handing out fliers to educate the public about the dangers of carbon monoxide and the need for detectors.
"They went to the local stores here in town and they've said we will put one with every customer," Kanawha County Fire Coordinator C.W. Sigman said. "When they are bagging their groceries they'll get one brochure in every bag. Will everybody react to it? No. But if one out of that mean reacts it's time well spent."
The Meals on Wheels program is also joining the initiative by educating the seniors who depend on its agency.
The Kanawha County Commission and Grant Committee are also discussing using money designated each year to pass out smoke alarms, now be use for combination carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.
Since the leak, a bill has also been drafted in the state House of Delegates that would require hotels and motels to have carbon monoxide detectors.
Lawmakers have not passed the bill yet.
The group was formed after William Moran died on Tuesday and 16 others were sickened when a pipe from a pool heater leaked carbon monoxide into the Holiday Inn Express along Corridor G in Charleston.
The task force is made up of first responders, emergency personnel, health department and school officials. The group's first meeting was held Friday.
During the meeting, the group discussed what can be done to avoid another carbon dioxide tragedy, including how to educate the public and get schools, hospitals and others to participate.
The group will also study where carbon monoxide detectors need to be placed so they will be effective. Then they will submit their findings to the state legislature to see if lawmakers need to act on the issue.
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Director Rahul Gupta says despite this week's deadly accident, they need to take their time looking into the problem.
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