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February 11th, 2014

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Hotel Kills Three, Hotel Owner Charged

A hotel operator in North Carolina is facing serious criminal charges after the deaths of three hotel guests. In two separate incidents, occupants of the same hotel room died of acute carbon monoxide poisoning. Another occupant survived.

The first deaths occurred in April 2013. An elderly couple staying at the hotel died. Several weeks later, in June 2013, a mother and her 11 year old son were staying in the same room. Hours after checking in, the son was dead, and the mother was rushed to a local hospital. Source: www.charlotteobserver.com, “Family of carbon monoxide victims: Hotels must better protect guests”

Hotel Pool Heater Leaked Carbon Monoxide

The problem was exhaust from the hotel’s pool heater which was located near the hotel room. Subsequent investigation revealed that corrosion of the pool heater’s exhaust pipe allowed carbon monoxide to flow into the specific hotel room.

Within months of the deaths, the hotel operator was arrested and charged with manslaughter. He has since blamed the company which converted the heater from propane to natural gas in 2012.

More: Hotels & Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Hotels & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Since these deaths, North Carolina’s legislature enacted changes to the North Carolina Building Code. House Bill 74, Section 19(a) requires all North Carolina hotels, motels and other lodging properties to install carbon monoxide detectors in certain rooms, effective October 1, 2013. Under the law, carbon monoxide detectors are required in rooms which either, 1. contain gas/fuel burning appliances, such as heaters or fireplaces, or 2. share a wall, ceiling or floor with another room containing a gas/fuel burning appliance.

Related: Avoid Carbon Monoxide Exposure at Work and Home

While many other states have yet to follow suit, including Pennsylvania, this new law appropriately requires carbon monoxide detectors in rooms which share a wall, ceiling or floor with another room that contains a gas/fuel burning appliance. It is a well-known fact that carbon monoxide can and does seep from one area to another. The gas can even seep from the outdoors to the indoors. This is why portable residential generators should be operated at least 20 feet away from the house.