GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- A metro Atlanta school district is taking action, installing carbon monoxide detectors in every school. It comes after a potentially deadly leak at Finch Elementary in Atlanta sent nearly 50 teachers and students to the hospital.
SPECIAL COVERAGE | Protecting against carbon monoxide
"When things happen we all learn from them and we're going to learn from what happened down there," said Keith Vincent, director of maintenance for the Gainesville City School district.
Most of the schools built in the past decade have a single boiler or furnace that provides the heat. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says those schools can probably get away with one or two detectors. But older schools, such as Enota Elementary in Gainesville have dozens of smaller gas powered units on the roof. They say the best solution for them is to put a detector on the ceiling in every room.
"The teachers as we've gone through classrooms today have been very happy with it. Did not mind us disturbing their classes at all to install, because it only takes just a couple minutes," said Vincent.
The first batch of carbon monoxide detectors arrived on Wednesday, but the district will continue to receive shipments every day until Monday.
The district says it will take about three weeks to install the 300 detectors ordered. The units are battery operated, so crews will have to remember to maintain them. But Vincent says hardwiring that many units to the main emergency system wasn't economically feasible.
"Just a ball park figure for this school alone would have cost us $9,000 to $10,000, just for one school," he said.
While there has never been a problem with carbon monoxide poisoning at any of the schools in Gainesville, parents waiting to pick up their children were still clearly relieved to hear the news.
"I almost went to Lowes and bought one and sent it in to the classroom just to tell the teacher, stick it somewhere, it will go off if you have a problem," said Laurie Weber while waiting to pick up her son.
Every parents 11Alive talked with said it was money well spent. Some went as far as suggesting the legislature should take action, if districts won't.
"It takes parents lobbying the state to go ahead and get those instituted in all of our buildings, schools and otherwise for the safety of our children," said Steven Fletcher.
Once the detectors are installed, the district will talk with teachers about how they work and evacuation plans. The idea is that teachers can pull the fire alarm on their way out, alerting the rest of the school and emergency crews to the potential danger.
Enota already had a carbon monoxide detector in the media center near an older heating unit. It is scheduled to be replaced next year. That monitor actually has a digital read out, since there's no set teacher in the room. When 11Alive visited on Wednesday, the number read "0."