Mecklenburg County, N.C., Institutes Requirements for Carbon Monoxide Detectors

New requirement for CO detectors in apartments starts Jan. 1

"If they cooperate with (existing cultural) organizations, the chances of reaching the immigrant community are so much greater," recommends Angeles Ortega-Moore, executive director of the Latin American Coalition.

Even before it has fully taken effect, however, the ordinance has proven to be a rare thing -- something everybody in the community has come to agree and cooperate on. "It's the smart thing to do and the right thing to do," says Mecklenburg Health Director E. Winters Mabry.

Gayle Carelock, for one, is a believer. Her carbon monoxide alarm started the morning of Nov. 5 as an annoyance. By the afternoon, it had become a lifesaver.

After changing the batteries and resetting it that morning, Carelock learned the alarm had been unrelenting for a reason: Her aging furnace was leaking carbon monoxide.

The mother of two has learned her lesson. "When your alarm goes off, you pay attention," she says. "I think it's the greatest thing in the world to have."