It seems that nearly every winter, right around Christmas, the holiday spirit is marred by at least one case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Over the weekend, a couple from West Valley City perished due to carbon monoxide exhaust from a generator they were using during a power outage. And this week in Park City, eight members of a household in Prospector narrowly averted tragedy when fumes from a faulty furnace made them sick enough to require transport to the hospital.
Local police report they also received several calls from homeowners whose carbon monoxide alarms indicated they were at risk.
Too often, cold weather and power outages lead people to make bad decisions like using fuel-burning heaters without proper ventilation or cranking up old heating systems that haven’t been properly maintained.
The results can be catastrophic, especially for small children and the elderly. But these days, carbon monoxide poisoning can be averted with the use of detectors that act much like the commonly used smoke detector.
Two years ago Park City Municipal Corp. was instrumental in changing state code to require carbon monoxide detectors in new construction. That was a big step in the right direction. But the rule does not necessarily help those in Park City who are most at risk.
Seasonal renters, many who may not be familiar with the dangers of carbon monoxide or the condition of their units’ heating systems and who often live in older structures, need to be protected too.
In the wake of this week’s fatalities in the valley, and the near tragedy in Park City, the city and other community leaders should make a concerted effort to encourage landlords to inspect their properties’ heating and ventilation systems, educate their tenants about the hazards of fuel-burning devices and to install carbon monoxide detectors in each of their rental properties
Winter is just beginning, and using these incidents as a catalyst for a city-wide effort to promote awareness could save lives.
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In an intriguing sidebar to the overall Park City Planning Commission talks about a proposed project at Park City Mountain Resort, the developer recently mentioned a future Winter Olympics in the context of the project.