Senate bill named for two poisoned Kimball, MN brothers moves ahead


Federal legislation aimed at preventing carbon monoxide poisoning-related deaths has passed the Senate Commerce Committee.

The bill, The Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide support for public safety education and the installment of carbon monoxide detectors.

The proposal is named for the Burt brothers from Kimball, Minnesota, who died in 1995 from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide support for public safety education, and encourage the installment of safe and reliable carbon monoxide detectors.

Klobuchar says the legislation would go a long way towards preventing future deaths.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent, odorless killer that can strike at a moment’s notice if the proper safeguards aren’t in place,” Klobuchar says.

“This common sense bill will further educate families about how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and help ensure the installation of effective detectors that can help keep families and communities safe.”

The boys' mother, Cheryl Burt, testified in 2009 to Congress about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

"I had smoke alarms in my home. I used safety gates and child locks, and I thought my home was safe," she said. "I was wrong," she testified at the time.

Her son Zach was 16-months old when he died in his sleep from poisoning. Son Nick was four. Son Ryan, who was five-and a half at the time of the poisoning, survived.

"When you have carbon monoxide in your home, you cannot see it. You cannot taste it. You cannot smell it. You will feel its effects – a headache, nausea, dizziness – but you don't realize that you're being poisoned," Burt told ABC News.

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it causes at least 20,000 emergency room visits each year.
Most exposures occur in the winter months of December, January, and February.

Children are particularly susceptible.

Passage of the bill this week by the Commerce Committee paves the way for it to be considered by the full senate.

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