At a prison in Pennsylvania. At a school in Atlanta. At homes from Southern California to Maine. Even in recreational vehicles and cars. Carbon monoxide poisoning leads to serious injury or death. No indoor location is safe from the risks.
Brain injuries are often the result of such poisoning as the gas deprives the body of oxygen. The gas is colorless and odorless so victims are often overcome by the fumes without warning. While people do suddenly collapse, feel nausea or call for help before it’s too late, many times the symptoms occur more subtly and may take time to present. When moderate levels of the poison are in the air, a person may breathe it in on a daily basis without noticing side effects until brain damage, heart problems, respiratory issues or other complications arise. They slow suffocation can have massive consequences causing severe personal injury or death.
There seems to be no dwelling or region of the country where this problem does not persist. It is particularly acute in the winter when we burn more fossil fuels in our furnaces and boilers. Keeping our homes warm, our schools comfortable, and our businesses welcoming is part of our daily lives. Even as we operate our cars or sleep in our RVs, the risk does not dissipate. In 2012, a Detroit publication reported that a Michigan man received a settlement of $2 million after he suffered permanent brain damage from a carbon monoxide leak in an RV he was occupying. Since then, there have been numerous cases filed in the court system alleging that death or serious injury in RVs, campers, and hotel rooms are the result of carbon monoxide poising. Who can forget the case in 2013 that resulted in a lawsuit against Best Western where 3 people perished at different times in the same hotel room as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. One victim was only 11 years old. The cause was determined to be a carbon monoxide leak in the swimming pool water heating system.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reported in October 2016, that over 500 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning, and over 10,000 are poisoned by it requiring medical treatment each year. Because of the number of incidents reported, many states have adopted laws mandating the use of carbon monoxide detectors. However, the NCSL reports that only 12 states by statute require installation of carbon monoxide detectors in hotels and motels.
While the instances of a carbon monoxide leak are quite low compared to the instances of a car accident, the risk is still significant. When a leak occurs in an individual home, several people may be injured or killed. In an incident on a similar scale happens in a hotel, dozens of people could be killed. While the risk may seem low, many experts believe that the cost of a carbon monoxide detector in a hotel room would be well worth the investment. For those who have lived through the experience, no doubt they would concur. For your protection and your loved one’s protection, consider purchasing a portable carbon monoxide detector.