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Clarksville Tragedy inspires Tennessee Carbon Monoxide Awareness


Five deaths in rented RV prompt changes in Tennessee Law

Clarksville Fire RescueClarksville, TN – Jim Wall, Tim Stone, Allison Bagwell-Wyatt and Jon and Katy Over died in their sleep in Clarksville on September 18th, 2011, when fumes from a gasoline-powered generator seeped into their rented recreational vehicle. The RVs carbon monoxide detector, which could have prevented the deaths, was found to have no batteries.

This tragedy inspired Tennessee’s Governor and Legislature to approve a new law regulating RV rentals and to proclaim September 18th as Tennessee Carbon Monoxide Awareness Day.

Rented RVs are now required by Tennessee law to have a functioning carbon monoxide detector.

Rented RVs are now required by Tennessee law to have a functioning carbon monoxide detector.

As a result, rented RVs are now required by Tennessee law to have a functioning carbon monoxide detector before being leased for use. The law also holds RV rental companies responsible if they fail to document and test the CO detectors in their leased vehicles.

Because this law only applies to rentals, it is imperative that personal RV owners stay diligent in testing and changing the batteries of the carbon monoxide detectors in their campers.

Carbon monoxide, often called “the silent killer,” is an invisible, odorless gas created when fuels such as kerosene, gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane burn incompletely. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include headache, nausea, and drowsiness. High levels of poisoning can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

Anyone who suspects they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately move to a fresh air location and call 9-1-1.

Clarksville Fire Rescue offers these tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside homes, campers and RVs to provide early warning.
  • Use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents and other shelter openings. Lit or smoldering barbecue grills should never be taken inside a home, tent or RV.
  • Never use a fuel-powered lantern or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or RV.
  • Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vent, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.




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