SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers may be poised to change a law banning local city and county governments from requiring landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors in older apartments.
Utah is the only state in the nation with this type of law on the books, and the lack of a CO detector in one Provo apartment nearly cost a young family, the Taylors, their lives.
In January, the Taylors used a gas furnace in their apartment to help keep their 5-day-old baby warm. But on their second night home from the hospital, Bethany Taylor, her husband Kendall and her mother-in-law all felt sick. Jane, too, was acting different.
"My main concern was (Jane) was really sleepy and wasn’t eating and that’s how I knew that something was wrong with her because she’s a brand new baby, she’s hungry," Bethany Taylor said.
Kendall Taylor searched the family’s symptoms on the internet and came up with carbon monoxide poisoning. The apartment didn’t have a CO detector so they decided to go to the hospital.
Dr. James Stewart diagnosed Jane with CO poisoning and put her in a hyperbaric chamber with her mom.
"We’re lucky that things turned out the way that they did,” Bethany Taylor said. “I couldn’t believe this was happening to my brand new little baby and I was so worried about what was going to happen to her."
Soon, baby Jane started to recover and was "just like a baby again," Stewart said. He added that she responded to her mother and was "very hungry when she came out of the chamber."
Gas furnace in the Taylor’s apartment. Photo: KSL TV
But Stewart said the Taylors were incredibly lucky, noting that they "could have had three obituaries" instead.
Bethany Taylor shared her story with lawmakers Monday. She’s supporting the effort to repeal Utah’s current law. A recent KSL Investigation revealed the law bans cities and counties from requiring landlords to put carbon monoxide detectors in older apartments.
"It’s something that should just become an automatic requirement just like a smoke detector, just like you know, a bathroom," Bethany Taylor said.
The Taylors’ landlord installed carbon monoxide detectors after Bethany told her what happened. The landlord told the KSL Investigators the she agreed that the law should be changed.
Lawmakers put the bill, HB191, on hold Monday. Several lawmakers urged the sponsor to change the language to split the responsibility for carbon monoxide detectors between landlords and tenants. A shared responsibility provision would require landlords to install the detectors, and then tenants would have to maintain them. A lobbyist for the Utah Apartment Association told the committee it could support that change.