Carbon Monoxide Detectors In Schools

Quite a scare Monday in an Atlanta elementary school where dozens of children and some adults were overcome by dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

The cause? A faulty heating system.

It raises the question...could it happen here?

Keeping kids safe is everyone's concern, but sometimes what could harm them the most is never seen.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer, easily spread throughout buildings by vents.

Mark Warneke is the Director of Buildings and Grounds for the Omaha Public School District.

He says every school in the district is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.

"We have them located in the kitchen and boiler rooms and mechanical spaces," Warneke said. "We try to place them where we have equipment or mechanical items that have open flames, burning gas. We have some steamers, cookers, kettles. that would be running off of gas."

Warneke said the equipment is checked on a regular basis for any potential problems.

he does not recall a carbon monoxide emergency ever in any district building.

He said newer schools use less gas powered equipment.

Water heaters are now using geothermal heating sources and heat pumps are gaining in use.

There are backup generators in schools which are powered by gas, but a large vent system expels dangerous fumes from the building.

Warneke says OPS installed the detectors voluntarily and there is no requirement in Nebraska to have them.

Iowa doesn't has a law addressing carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings either.

The Council Bluffs school district does annual inspections and preventative maintenance on boilers in schools. Spokesperson Diane Ostrowski said most of the district's heating & cooling systems have been updated with built-in fresh air intake sensors. Many schools now operate with geo-thermal heating & cooling systems, which lessen the chance of leaks. Preschool classrooms have carbon monoxide detectors, which is a requirement by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC.

The Millard School District has portable detectors, but nothing permanent inside any buildings.

All of the districts we contacted do regular maintenance checks on gas powered machinery and appliances.

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