CO detection in schools.jpg

© Jenelle Botts Photography, 2021

So schools and daycares have two choices: They can alert with an alarm or a detection system that there's a situation occurring and can safely, and quickly, get people out. 

Should a carbon monoxide exposure happen at a school with detection, it's likely a minimal health risk – as they will be able to get occupants into fresh air quickly, with the least amount of health injuries.

 

But many schools, if not most, are choosing to not have an alarm nor a detection system, because they're not required to. 

 

And should a carbon monoxide exposure happen at that school, it's often an emergency medical intervention – because the exposure is often allowed to reach critical levels – resulting in long-term health issues, organ damage or death.

Nikki James Zellner, activist and mom

IS CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING REALLY AN ISSUE IN SCHOOLS?

Here's a short list of states that have experienced CO leaks causing school evacuations + hospital visits between lin 2019 + 2020. Click each state to read corresponding article on how the leaks were discovered.

Here's a downloadable PDF of documented CO poisoning in schools I can find online covered by the Press as early as 2005. CO exposure is severely underreported due to lack of hardwired connection to emergency authorities, not always covered by the press, as well as its general ability to mimic other illnesses.

After submitting FOIA requests from Fire/EMS providers across the State of Virginia, we've found over 100 documented incidences of Carbon Monoxide exposure in Virginia daycares and schools since 2015 that required medical intervention or evacuation. In over 20% of these cases, the issues were related to corroded pipes or construction, cleaning and landscaping equipment that use gas in their tank for power – NOT appliances like a boiler, furnace or gas oven – further indicating Carbon Monoxide detection should move beyond the "install detection in cases of gas appliance only" narrative.

HOW MANY ARE AT RISK

Using the Virginia Public School System in 2019-2020 as an example:

  • 17th largest school system in the United States – made up of 8 regions, 133 divisions

  • Serving 1,288,374 students across the 2,161 public schools for the 2020 school year

  • One of the highest concentrations of military families enrollment in the nation 

 

>> The numbers above did not include children enrolled in daycare, charter or private school educational facilities.

 

>> The numbers above did not include the educators + faculty serving in daycare, charter, public or private schools

Now multiply that out across the country. Food for thought.