There's new attention on carbon monoxide detectors after 42 students and five adults in Atlanta, Georgia were hospitalized Monday after a carbon monoxide leak went undetected inside a school.
Carbon monoxide detectors are not required in Georgia schools, and we learned they may not be in your child's school either here in our region either.
Keeping students safe in our schools is a top priority, but what happens if a killer lurks inside that you may never know is there until it's too late? "The thing about carbon monoxide is it's a silent, deadly killer. You can't smell it. You can't see it," said Barry Brickey with the Kingsport Fire Department.
Carbon monoxide in schools is getting new attention across the nation; not because it can leak in, but because in most states, including Tennessee and Virginia, schools aren't required to install detectors to check for it.
We called around to different schools systems in our region and didn't find any with detectors inside the building where students are, though some like Kingsport City Schools do monitor for the deadly gas. "We do put detectors in our boiler rooms that have gas combustion," said David Carper, Kingsport City Schools' director of facilities management.
Carper told us that's because a boiler room is the most likely spot for the silent gas to creep out, and part of preventing that from happening is a yearly inspection of their equipment to keep it running efficiently. "We also take seriously any complaints so if someone says they smell gas," said Carper. "Then we take care of that by getting over there, checking the problem out."
These measures are very similar to Bristol, Tennessee schools. They have devices on their new boilers to monitor the gas, and they inspect their equipment daily.
Over at Bristol, Virginia Public Schools, we learned they have a portable device to check on similar complaints and do air quality tests twice a year.
Even so, for some parents that may be too little, too late in a worst-case scenario. They're hoping for something more permanent like a state law to get in the books. "That way kids would be safer and parents could have a little peace of mind about safety in school," said Veronica Grizzle, a mother of two elementary school students.
Firefighters told us the next international building code may have changes that include carbon monoxide detector requirements, but that would have to be adopted by states and local municipalities.