Carbon monoxide detectors may become a requirement for new and renovated homes in the city of Beaufort where poisoning is possible, those with gas appliances or attached garages among them.
The state likely will make the detectors mandatory in the near future, even if the city does not, planning director Libby Anderson and building official Roni Abdella told City Council at a meeting Tuesday.
"We would like to get started in the city because of all the new houses that have been going up, and of course, because of the dangers with gas fireplaces and attached garages and things of that nature that could leak gas into our houses where our children are sleeping," Abdella said.
About half of new homes going up in the city have attached garages, Anderson said.
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The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 13 unintentional carbon monoxide exposures in Beaufort County between 2006 and 2010.
Home improvement stores list carbon monoxide detectors for as low as $20 for battery-operated models to more than $100 for ones wired into homes. They are typically placed about halfway up walls between bedroom entrances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless and tasteless, is one of the most common causes of poisoning. It is in combustion fumes vehicles or gas engines or from burning wood, charcoal and gas.
"There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in certain situations, and this we think would be a preventative measure for our citizens now and in the future," Anderson said.
Councilman Mike Sutton, a licensed builder, said the requirement could become expensive, especially for those renovating homes. Unless battery-operated units are used, the detectors would have to be wired into the house, which could be costly depending on the amount of wiring and repairs to the installation area.
Allen Patterson, president of the Home Builders Association of the Lowcountry, said the carbon monoxide detectors he typically installs cost about $108 for equipment and about $250 with labor. He thinks detectors are needed less in new homes than in older ones with aging furnaces and appliances.
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