Tearful family members are pleading with Florida lawmakers to help prevent needless deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. They’re supporting a bill that would require all homes to have equipment to detect the odorless, colorless gas.
The loved ones say passage of the bill could literally be a matter of life and death.
Seventeen-year-old Jennifer Perez came to the Capitol to testify in favor of a bill requiring carbon monoxide detectors in homes in memory of her brother Anthony. Jennifer says Anthony’s accidental death by carbon monoxide poisoning two years ago has devastated her family. “I needed to do it for him, too. It’s not fair that I had to have this loss, but it happened. I can’t turn back time, and if I can prevent it from happening to other people, then I will.
Anthony and his friend Janelle were sitting talking in his van with the engine running. They didn’t know it had an exhaust leak, and both were killed. Jennifer broke down as she told lawmakers the story. “If I knew it was the last time I was going to see him I wouldn’t have stopped hugging him that night when I went to say bye.”
The legislation would not address leaking exhausts in cars. But the families hope requiring c-o detectors in homes and hotels will dramatically lower the death toll.
Statistics show more than 2,000 people die every year in the US from carbon monoxide poisoning. A dozen people in Florida alone died during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane season from faulty generator use because they didn’t have one of these.
Bill sponsor Eddy Gonzalez says issue has put the legislative process in perspective for him. “These are the issues that our people face and these are the issues we should be dealing with and sometimes we’re here battling for things that really aren’t that important.
The bill requiring carbon monoxide detectors (HB 483/SB 1822) passed its first House committee unanimously Thursday. It now goes to the full House for a vote. If the bill becomes law, it would be named in memory of Anthony Perez and Janelle Bertot, the young people whose families have lobbied for the bill’s passage.