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Sales of carbon monoxide detectors on the rise in Aspen

Paul Conrad/The Aspen TimesAce assistant store manager Mark Janda explains how to install carbon monoxide alarms to Brian Guilander on Monday afternoon at Alpine Ace Hardware in Aspen. Guilander, of Snowmass Village, says he's building a house and, after hearing about the Denver family killed by the toxic gas, is considering putting in the alarms.
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ASPEN, Colorado ” Local hardware stores can’t keep enough carbon monoxide detectors on the shelves after the public learned of the tragic deaths of a family of four who died on Friday from the deadly gas.

Aspen resident Elizabeth Milias, a friend of the deceased family, is urging people to invest in the $60 detectors, available at Alpine Ace Hardware and through her blog, http://www.theredant.com. The store is offering a 10 percent discount and free home delivery anywhere in Pitkin County if the detectors are ordered through the website.

“We are making a special effort because of this tragedy,” said Ace assistant manager Mark Janda.



Milias addressed the Aspen City Council on Monday, urging elected officials to make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in the building code for new and remodeled homes. She will ask the same of county officials.

“This senseless tragedy due to carbon monoxide poisoning is especially difficult because carbon monoxide can be easily detected with the use of a small and inexpensive monitoring device, not unlike the smoke detectors we all have in our homes,” Milias said.



Representatives from True Value in the Miner’s Building and Ace Hardware under Clark’s Market both reported Monday that they have sold dozens of detectors since the tragedy.

“Our shelves are empty … we just filled them,” Janda said Monday morning, adding more detectors are being ordered and brought from other stores in the valley.

The sudden interest in the detectors was prompted after Denver residents Parker Lofgren, 39; his wife, Caroline Lofgren, 42; and their children, Sophie, 8, and Owen, 10, died Friday of carbon monoxide poisoning after a faulty hot water system leaked the gas into a home they were staying at east of Aspen. There was no carbon monoxide detector in the home.



“You could save a life with this small expenditure. And have peace of mind,” according to the blog’s authors, Milias and Marilyn Marks. “As home mechanical systems have become considerably more complex and homes tighter, the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide exposure is increased.”

Janda said the store sold about 30 detectors over the weekend and 20 more were on order. Another 25 were sold Monday, three of which were purchased through the website, Janda said.

Tommy Mineo, who works at the Miner’s Building, said 10 detectors were sold Monday.

“That’s a lot since we sell one maybe every week or two,” he said. “There’s a noticeable difference [in sales].”

Mineo said the store Monday sold out of the detectors, which sell for $32.99. More should be in stock by Friday, he added.

The detectors range in price from $32.99 to $59.99 at the Miner’s Building. Ace also offers models selling in that range, plus another priced at $69.99.

The more expensive models have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Most models plug into the wall and have a battery back-up.

Many customers at the hardware stores Monday were homeowners who were urged by their property management companies to purchase the detectors.

Match Murphy, owner of COOEE Property Services, said he is encouraging all of his clients to buy the detectors. For those who live here part time, his company will buy the detectors and install them.

“Instead of waiting for them to do it, we are going to do it for them,” Murphy said. “We are going to suggest quite heavily for people to buy carbon monoxide detectors in every house we have anything to do with.”

Dubbed the “Lofgren Initiative,” Milias wants the building code changed as soon as possible, and is encouraging detectors be put in all affordable housing units.

Janda said he supports requiring detectors in the local building code.

“I’m shocked that this isn’t included now,” he said. “Everyone should have one.”

He added that as a former police officer and firefighter, he has seen his share of tragedies related to carbon monoxide poisoning.

City officials said plans already are in the works to make carbon monoxide detectors part of the new building code, which will be adopted in the first quarter of 2009.

“Our community is a leader in so many areas,” Milias told the council. “This recent tragedy provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness and provide a simple and cost-effective solution to the threat of death by carbon monoxide poisoning.”

csack@aspentimes.com


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