A few weeks ago, dozens of children and several teachers at Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta, GA, were rushed to the hospital after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that causes nausea, headaches, dizziness and in some cases death. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 170 US citizens die each year from CO poisoning, and thousands of people go to the hospitals for treatment for CO poisoning.
The Fire Chief maintained that the CO levels right outside of the school’s furnace were deadly. Many parents locally and across the nation were shocked and outraged to find out that the school did not have CO detectors. Like me, they just assumed all schools were equipped with CO detectors, along with the fire detectors.
There is no such law that requires schools to install CO detectors. In fact, there are only two states with laws requiring CO detectors in schools — Maryland and Connecticut.
As you can imagine, this topic raised concerns locally and nationally. If you search carbon monoxide poisoning in Atlanta School, you will find that across the nation, citizens and news outlets ask the question: “Do our schools have CO detectors?” Many were shocked to find out that while some schools have them…many did not.
Now in Atlanta, the schools are debating whether or not to install detectors. Really? What is there to debate about? Are they waiting for a few kids to die first before taking action?
And isn’t this typically what happens when a bunch of kids get harmed or killed in a tragedy? We start debating whether or not something should be done. We will debate about it for weeks, months…maybe years, and often the story fades away. Only to return to the forefront when more kids are hurt.
We should not have to wait until our kids suffer more injustices before act our government acts on their behalf. Let’s be proactive about ensuring that legislators are passing laws to keep our children safe. Use your voice at whatever level suits the cause. School boards and local officials need to know we expect them to keep our children are safe.
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What steps will you take to keep important issues that are affecting our children on the front pages and off the obituary page?