Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would effectively require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all schools.
The bill (2018-H 7041) would require all school buildings where students are in attendance to have carbon monoxide detectors installed and maintained. The act would also authorize the Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal and Review to promulgate rules and regulations to enforce the provisions of the requirement.
“More than 500 Americans die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning,” said McNamara. “And more than 10,000 seek medical treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning. And while 27 states, including Rhode Island require detectors in homes, only California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine and Maryland require them in school buildings.”
Carbon monoxide is a gas that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and can be fatal when breathed. The symptoms that occur with carbon monoxide poisoning, such as a headache, can be similar to those of common illnesses. These similarities often lead to an incorrect diagnosis, such as flu, allergies, migraine headache or stroke.
The issue was brought to the attention of McNamara by a Cranston woman, whose daughter was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning that she believes her daughter suffered at school.
“The fact that the school administration building has carbon monoxide detectors, but the schools that are filled with children do not is appalling to me,” said Pauline Belal, who is expected to testify in favor of the bill at a meeting of the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.
The bill, which is cosponsored by Representatives Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket), William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence), Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick) and Julie Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), will be heard by the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the rise of the House (about 4:30 p.m.) in Room 101 on the first floor of the State House.