Objective: Unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a leading cause of poisoning in the United States. Most poisoning cases occur in residential settings and a working CO alarm may prevent many of these events. The use of a CO alarm is mandated in many parts of the country; however, little is known about the compliance and adoption of such ordinances at the population level. This study determined the prevalence of residential CO alarm and awareness of a 2001 CO alarm ordinance in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 2009.
Methods: A random sample of households stratified by housing type (eg, single-family homes, multifamily homes) was included in a cross-sectional survey conducted. One adult respondent from each household was administered a questionnaire that included information on sociodemographic and household characteristics, presence of a CO alarm, and CO alarm ordinance awareness. Data were analyzed using multivariate stratified conditional logistic regression.
Results: Among 214 participating households (response rate, 23.4%), 145 (67.8%) reported having a working CO alarm and 79 (36.9%) of the respondents were aware of the CO alarm ordinance. Respondents who were aware of the ordinance had 9 times higher odds (95% confidence interval, 3.3–25.9) of having a CO alarm than those who were unaware. Also, households with an attached garage had more than 2 times higher odds (95% confidence interval, 1.0–6.2) of having a CO alarm than those without an attached garage. Awareness of the CO alarm ordinance was not associated with any sociodemographic (eg, age, sex, race, education, income) or household (eg, home ownership, home construction year) characteristics.
Conclusions: Carbon monoxide alarm prevalence in Mecklenburg County households was higher than the national average and was associated with CO alarm ordinance awareness. Public health efforts might benefit from regulations aimed at population-level adoption of preventive health behaviors.