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Recent incidents highlight importance of carbon monoxide detectors

Posted at 9:31 PM, Jan 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-08 23:36:24-05

SANDY, Utah — The “silent killer” strikes every winter, but lately, Utah’s seen a few notable cases involving carbon monoxide.

Most recently, a Smith’s in Sandy had to be evacuated on Sunday after firefighters detected high levels of the dangerous gas.

At the start of 2024, 49 people who attended a church service in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse needed hospital care.

A few months ago, a family was also hospitalized after they rented a cabin in Duchesne County, and two others died in a cabin during a hunting trip in Carbon County.

All of these intense moments this winter centered around carbon monoxide.

“It comes at you from nowhere. You don’t know it’s coming at you unless you have a device to forewarn you,” said Ogden City Fire Chief Mike Mathieu.

Over 15 years ago, Mathieu played a major role in pushing the city to protect its people.

"We adopted an ordinance in Ogden because we have so many older residences and we said we wanted to require detectors in all residential dwellings,” he explained.

The city rule changed in 2009 when a new state law was put in place, saying a city or county can’t require carbon monoxide detectors against anyone other than the person living there.

“It’s the occupant’s duty to protect herself or himself,” explained personal injury attorney Robert Sykes. “It’s buyer beware.”

Sykes actually gave away detectors as Christmas presents this year.

Depending on when your property was built, you might already have them.

“Newer ones are required to have them as part of the building code, but older ones aren’t,” Sykes said.

Utah schools are required to have them, but for other buildings, it’s more of a suggestion.

“So stores, churches, things like that, there’s not a requirement to have carbon monoxide detectors,” said Mathieu.

The city of Ogden hasn’t seen an accidental carbon monoxide death since 2006.

Mathieu credits that to the requirement they put in place years ago and the department’s education and prevention efforts.

"Go to sleep at night and you rest peacefully knowing you have this device sitting there looking for carbon monoxide,” he said.

Ogden offers detectors at half-price to all residents who purchase through city hall.

If you visit a grocery store, an average carbon monoxide detector costs around $30.