1 Dead, 4 Sick In Hotel Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A carbon monoxide poisoning has been blamed for the death of one hotel guest and the sickness of four others. The disaster unfolded at a West Virginia Holiday Inn Express, at which firefighters discovered high levels of the gas on several floors. They found that the source of the leak was a water heater.

The AP reports the hotel was evacuated. Colleagues discovered the man was dead after he didn’t appear at a meeting. Four guests who showed up to his room to check up on him reported feeling sick.

Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas, are tough to identify, which is why safety experts recommend installing detectors in your home.

W.Va. hotel evacuated after guest dies, 4 sickened [AP via MSN]

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  1. deathbecomesme says:

    Lawsuit in 3….2….1..

    • pop top says:

      Why shouldn’t there be a lawsuit?

      • Cat says:

        I’m sure there will be, and should be, a lawsuit. But I don’t know how successful it will be if the hotel wasn’t mandated to have CO detectors.

        If my home is required to have a CO detector, then certainly hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts should also be required to have them. And no grandfathering, either. They’re easy to retrofit.

        • pop top says:

          There’s probably some sort of law requiring regular maintenance on their HVAC and other mechanical systems, such as the water heater that caused this. Even f there isn’t a specific law regarding that, if a company causes a death through their own negligence, shouldn’t they be punished for it in some way?

          • edman007 says:

            Doesn’t mean it wasn’t matained, in my old house with a gas water heater, cold air outside combined with the large exaust pipe resulted in a reversal of flow in the chimney, dumping the exaust gas inside the house. Things were functning correctly though and the water heater’s build in CO detector detected it and it went into automatic shutdown. That is more of a building design issue than anything else.

        • shepd says:

          I think it will be successful. His death was caused by the lack of maintenance to the water heater.

          If instead the roof collapsed on his bed, his family could successfully sue for that, but there’s no “roof collapse detector” that’s required equipment for a hotel, either.

          • The Porkchop Express says:

            depends on why the roof collapsed, but I think the family will be getting money out of this without even going to court. The sick people probably will too.

        • zedrin says:

          this is either a 7 or 8 figure thing 100%.. there’s just no question on negligence here.. slam dunk

  2. Karney says:

    I don’t know if its different in West Virginia, but in MA you are required to have carbon monoxide detectors.

    • Cat says:

      Even in hotels? I’m sure the hospitality industry fights for exemptions from laws that apply to us mere mortals who can’t afford to buy congresscritters.

      • bhr says:

        I would be shocked if Hotels opposed CO detectors, as it benefits them with no (that I can think of) obvious drawbacks. In fact, I would be surprised if their insurance companies didn’t mandate that hotels install them.

        Most likely this was a detector that wasn’t regularly inspected/had a bad power source. Which makes this a tragic, preventable, loss of life and I am guessing the victims family is going to get a big big check (for what its worth).

        I am surprised though that a water heater would produce enough CO to kill someone in a hotel, the rooms are hardly airtight and hotels have a lot of room for the air to circulate. I imagine that this poor man was in a room quite close to the leak for it to happen.

        • Rachacha says:

          “I would be shocked if Hotels opposed CO detectors, as it benefits them with no (that I can think of) obvious drawbacks”
          I think it depends on the potential risk. Many (but not all) hotels have electric heat or heat pumps in the rooms and water heaters provided in central mechanical rooms or hot water provided by a central boiler. As there is no combustion source in or near most rooms a CO detector is an unnecessary expense except possibly inside the mechanical rooms.

        • gman863 says:

          I am surprised though that a water heater would produce enough CO to kill someone in a hotel…

          Hotels, hospitals, etc. use massive size water heaters – often several. Each one by itself can create as much heat (and CO gas) as an average home gas furnace.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      West Virginia has no such law. Some counties do have codes that require them but it’s typically only for very new construction.

  3. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    I don’t know which company it is, but a CO detector is part of their all-in-one Fire/Intruder/CO security system…

    It’s the only system I’ve seen in the homes that have one installed, so I just sort of figured they came standard as part of the security system.

  4. Cat says:

    I really hate my CO detector, because it doesn’t know the difference between my furnace spewing CO into my home and me baking cookies.

    • crashfrog says:

      Um, have your oven fixed. Soon. These aren’t smoke detectors; regular baking shouldn’t trip a CO detector.

      • Cat says:

        Burning anything produces CO. A gas oven is an unvented combustion appliance – where do you think all that CO is going to go? Sure, into the house. An electric oven won’t ever set off a CO detector, but I hate electric stoves.

        My CO detector is just too sensitive.

        • ElleAnn says:

          I set off my smoke detector weekly because I’m too lazy to clean the oven so every time I use the broiler twhatever old drips are in the oven burn and create a ridiculous amount of smoke. Still, I have never ever set off the CO detector. I don’t think it’s normal for it to go off when you burn food. Better safe than sorry- you should get it checked out!

        • Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

          My oven never sets of my CO detector and it is a mere 8 feet away. You really should have your oven checked. Increased CO levels indicate improper fuel/air ratio from possibly a clogged orifice (no, not that one) or other problems.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            It’s the same thing for me. I’ve never triggered a CO alarm with any of my appliances. If that happened, I would turn off the pilot and call the gas company for an inspection.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Shouldn’t a properly function gas stove give off CO2 and H2O?

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            Thinking back to college…

            CH4 + 2O2—> CO2 + 2H2O

            It really shouldn’t be emitting readable levels of CO. I’ve always had gas appliances (unvented logs, oven, water heater, clothes drier…) and have never had any of them trigger a CO alarm.

            The closest thing I can think of is the natural gas alarm being triggered by paint or solvent fumes.

    • PunditGuy says:

      That may say more about your carbon cookies than your CO detector. The chocolate chips are next to the carbon chips.

    • tacitus59 says:

      I concur with the check your oven – assuming that you have a gas oven.

    • chizu says:

      Every other Asian person I know who actually cooks always complain about how the smoke and CO detector would go off because the vent above the stove is too weak. (Along with complaints on how the stove is too weak, and how they all wish they have an outdoor industrial gas powered stove…)

      My detectors go off very easily when I first moved into my house, even on self-cleaning mode it’d go off too. So I gave up on self-cleaning and just do manual cleaning…

      • Cat says:

        Like many others, the “vent” above my stove is just a fan with a filter that sends the air back into the room. (I’ve been meaning to put in a real vent, maybe it’s time.) Cooking for my wife involves frying – her favorite flavor is “crispy”.

        All my neighbors have the same model CO detector in their homes. Those with gas stoves have the same problem. It’s the detectors, I’m sure of it.

  5. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Yikes, that area is a frequent destination for people where I work.

  6. RiverStyX says:

    So..I guess he won’t have to pay for the extra day?

  7. PunditGuy says:

    I’ve been carbon monoxide poisoned. No fun. If you experience a really sudden onset of flu-like symptoms and feel a little drunk, get some fresh air fast.

    Obviously that wouldn’t be of help for people sleeping in a hotel.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      Same here. Had a leaking tail pipe and I got stuck in a winter storm, which meant I was sitting idling for long periods of time to stay warm and couldn’t lower my window much. I kept passing out behind the wheel. Then was the like two day of constant nausea.

  8. Dallas_shopper says:

    My house has a gas furnace and a gas hot water heater, so a CO detector was a no-brainer.

  9. AngryK9 says:

    I’ve stayed at that hotel before. Scary.

  10. teamplur says:

    Wow that’s just terrible. I deal with large room blocks with hotels on a regular basis, and if some of my Marines every died due to something as stupid as CO poisoning there…. wow.. just wow… I mean really, a CO detector is like $20. A room goes for like $50 a night at least. I’m gonna start asking if my hotels have CO detectors as well as smoke

  11. speaky2k says:

    This happened just down the street from where I work several years ago in Allentown, PA. One man died and several people were sick for an “unknown” reason. Then they found out that a contractor patching some stucco outside the new hotel (6 months at most) put up plastic that funneled the exhaust vent from the basement into several of the rooms’ air handler units. I think there is now a requirement at least in the city if not for the state that all new hotels and any remodels have to have CO as well as smoke detectors.

  12. u1itn0w2day says:

    Is that one of those hotels with non functional windows? Some of these hotels are as bad as the glass boxes these corporations use as an office. Over insulated/enclosed? I’ve read even in colder weather you should vent your house 5-10 minutes a day.

    If that was a gas water heater the vents should checked frequently for spider webs. Anything ment to be an opening should be swept or vacumed out. Spider webs start collecting more debris then less gases can be vented out. In a well insulated building this is catastrophic.

    • CubeRat says:

      I do this with my home, but I live in SoCal, so it’s not too bad.

      I also hate the hotels with sealed windows; and I always open windows in hotels when I can. If nothing else, I need to air out the rooms from ‘air fresheners’ or cleaners used by the hotel.

  13. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    This is really scary stuff. We actually had a field crew staying at that hotel last week. It’s one of the nicer hotels on Corridor G.

  14. Coffee Fiend says:

    I’m not dead, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    Suprised I’m the first one to say this.