West Virginia Mine Tragedy Brings New Awareness of CO Dangers


A mining accident tragedy in West Virginia is bringing new public awareness to two words heard often among life-safety systems installers: carbon monoxide (CO). An explosion inside the Sago Mine in Tallmansville, W. Va., on Jan. 2 left 13 miners trapped 260 feet below the surface. Two days later, only one of the miners was pulled out alive with all the others dying of CO poisoning.

With media reports filled with references to CO – as well as the tragic circumstances where initially 12 miners were announced as surviving – the general public may be learning more of the danger that CO poses in their own homes and businesses.

“Even in your home, nobody dies of smoke inhalation, they die of carbon monoxide,” says Geoff Winters, president of Electronic Control Systems (ECS), which manufactures the UltraGuard system that detects CO in a home and business and also shuts down the furnace or other source of the emissions.
Winters says the awareness of CO’s dangers have been growing among the general public as states and cities continue to pass requirements for CO detectors in their homes. Ironically, West Virginia was one of the first states to pass legislation requiring CO detectors in homes and businesses, according to Winters.

“The only problem is most people want to buy one detector. They don’t realize one detector is not going to solve the problem,” says Winters, adding the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends a detector on each floor and bedroom of a home. “You can’t see it, taste it or smell it. Most people are under the belief that all carbon monoxide occurs in the basement. It doesn’t.”

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