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Local Schools Speak on Carbon Monoxide Detectors

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LAWTON Okla_ Another incident at an elementary school is raising more questions about school safety. This time, it's carbon monoxide.

A faulty heater leaked the gas into a school in Oklahoma City Monday and sent six people to the hospital. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. It highlighted the fact that Oklahoma state law does not require carbon monoxide detectors in public schools.

According to Oklahoma state law, carbon monoxide alarms are not required in schools or any other commercial property, but they are required in all new residential construction. Just because they are not required doesn't mean schools in our area haven't taken the extra precaution.

"We are already ahead on this situation," Flowermound School Superintendent Diana Jackson said. "Carbon monoxide is a very scary situation, because it does not have any warning, you don't smell it, and you don't see it."

Jackson said they installed a carbon monoxide alarm after a safety inspector made the recommendation in the summer of 2012.

"This carbon monoxide detector is part of our regular security system," Jackson said. "So, if there ever is carbon monoxide and it detects it, it immediately reports it to the alarm company."

Flowermound's detector is located in the kitchen of the cafeteria because of the gas range, oven and water heater.

"We would recommend that if they have gas-fired equipment to put them in place," Lawton Fire Marshal Mark Mitchell said.

He said having a carbon monoxide detector is just as vital as having a smoke detector.

"Most of the time, buildings or houses are constructed in a fashion that there are a lot of safe guards in place to not have a fire," Mitchell said. "You always have that smoke detector there for that chance that there might be a fire."

Mitchell said carbon monoxide detectors probably aren't required in schools, because no one is sleeping there overnight. That's when it can be deadly, because you can't detect the symptoms, which usually include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and nausea.

"Anytime we can do a safety prevention first ahead of an accident or a problem, we are thankful and always will be," Mitchell said.

Fletcher and Elgin Public Schools both have carbon monoxide detectors. Most others 7News spoke to said they were looking into having them installed.

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. The National Fire Protection Association said all carbon monoxide alarms are tested monthly.


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