Can journalists help solve our CO problem in schools?

I believe they can – but only when the right questions get asked. Carbon monoxide events are not a one-and-done spot news story – and shouldn't be treated as such. 

Was there carbon monoxide detection on site?

This is the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION you should answer in your story: was there detection on site at this school?


If there was detection:

- What kind of detection devices were on site (integrated detection system, plug in or battery operated alarm, or monitor only)

- How were authorities/first responders alerted? (started beeping, alerted in office on central dashboard, alerted authorities directly?) – or did they not alert?


If no detection on site:

- Why not? Not required to due to law or code, owner negligence?

- Were there also fuel-fired systems on site? (like a furnace, boiler, HVAC)


What's the key data related to the event?

This is also really important data – as THIS sets the scene and breaks down the information clearly for councils, health/safety investigators and concerned stakeholders.


The Who

- Total # evacuated (and was it full evacuation or partial)

- Demographic breakdown: adults vs. children

- # treated on scene, # taken to hospital

The What

- Square footage of property, # of levels and kind of school

- # of areas within that property experiencing issue

- The attributed source of the CO exposure - incredibly important to list this or simply state (cause unknown at time of publishing)

The When

- Were symptoms being experienced at an earlier time

- When were authorities alerted

- When and how were parents notified (or were they)

The Situation

- PPM readings of CO meters (firefighters will have this information) - so important to list this in the article as this shows the true level of poisoning occurring on the property

- Quotes from victims, as well as parents on how they were communicated with, their experience

Who's Accountable/What's Next

- Now that the alarm has sounded, what are the school's plans when it comes to CO in their school; if related to systems, what will they change?


What's your Building Code and State Law?

While ICC/IFC and NFPA make recommendations – these recommendations aren't always adopted by localities, states in terms of the state's specific building codes. 

In your story, you will need to reiterate:

- Are CO detectors required by law in schools/daycares in your state?

If not, has legislation ever been introduced (and when did it fail)?

- How does the building code adopted in your state/city address carbon monoxide detection in new and/or existing buildings?


What are the Maintenance and Inspection Frequencies?

If this CO exposure is tied to a piece of equipment or system within the property (or on top of/next to the property):


- when was the last time that equipment was inspected (also, what's its inspection frequency in general)


- Who's responsible for inspecting it and maintaining it?


- How old is the equipment?


- Have any emergency responses happened at this location previously that impact health/life safety due to equipment used on or maintenance of the property?

Let's Work Together

Need a source for your story for background or on the record? I'm happy to provide an interview and am available at a moment's notice via email