1, 016 Carbon Monoxide Detectors Installed As Extra Safety Measure

Phillips Academy recently equipped all dorm rooms with carbon monoxide monitors in an effort to protect the community from the noxious gas. The project cost almost $15,000 and was completed prior to the students’ return to campus after break. The change came as a result of a new law in the state of Massachusetts, which states that all “R2 use groups,” such as dorms, are required to have a carbon monoxide monitor in every room by January 1, 2008. State fire marshals had reinterpreted a previous carbon monoxide code and determined that more stringent guidelines were necessary. Public Safety Department Manager Tom Conlon said, “The additional [carbon monoxide] monitors [in dorms] reflect a stricter interpretation of the [Massachusetts] carbon monoxide code.” The earlier reading of the carbon monoxide code accepted the hallway threshold of a dorm as a proper place for a monitor. In some cases, the hallway outside a dorm room was considered an adequate monitor location. The school began the process of relocating and installing more carbon monoxide alarms into dorm rooms in March 2006, according to Conlon. He said that Phillips Academy is one of the first of its peer schools to start the renovations. The project was completed on December 31, 2007 for the January 1, 2008 deadline. At $14.50 per unit, the project cost $14,732 for the 1,016 monitors. This amount does not including the installation expenses, according to Conlon. Each year, roughly 480 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States, while another 15,200 require emergency room treatment for exposure to the gas, according to the U.S. Fire Administration website. A highly toxic gas, carbon monoxide cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. Low exposure to carbon monoxide expresses symptoms similar to those of the flu, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Without an effective carbon monoxide monitor, a person could be in a contaminated area and never realize that they had been exposed. Last year, Phillips Academy responded to a couple of carbon monoxide alarms, according to Conlon. Conlon identified the source of the alarms as a fault of the alarms themselves, rather than a detection of carbon monoxide. He said, “The firefighters who responded to the call did not find a carbon monoxide reading.” Burning of fossil fuels is a main source of carbon monoxide release. Since the dorms at Phillips Academy rely on steam heating, a carbon monoxide poisoning problem is not considered to be a great concern.