USA Today analyzed more than 1,000 news accounts of hotel incidents and interviews with local fire departments and other public-safety officials and found high-levels of carbon monoxide gas in hotels in 30 instances since 2010. These instances led to more than 1,300 people being evacuated, as reported in a Nov. 16-18, 2012 front-page story.
Eight people died and at least 170 others were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in the last three years in hotels, which USA Today investigators found were rarely equipped with carbon monoxide or CO alarms.
Although the National Fire Protection Association warns that CO alarms need to be in every home near one's bedroom, the USA Today found that very few states or municipalities require hotels to be equipped with such alarms.
CO also is called the "silent killer" because it is a colorless, odorless and tasteless toxic gas produced by incomplete combustion in fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, boilers, water heaters, swimming pool heaters and motor vehicles. The USA Today reported there are no complete statistics on how many people are treated or die from CO poisoning annually. Such statistics also are not kept regarding hotels despite the American Hotel & Lodging Association estimating that some 4.9 million guest rooms are occupied in 51,214 hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts with 15 or more rooms in the U.S. in 2011.
Equipping each hotel room in the U.S. with an alarm is estimated to cost about $100 each and would need to be replaced about every five years, the USA Today story reported. That would amount to costing the industry $250 million, experts predict.
On Nov. 8, an Embassy Suites Hotel near the San Francisco Airport evacuated its 400 guests after one became ill and was taken to the hospital. Doctors there, including emergency room physician Dr. Karin Molander who was a medical student in Chicago years ago, diagnosed the CO poisoning which led hotel executives along with paramedics and firefighters to isolate the leak. Experts said that the meticulous joint effort probably led to saving many lives.
Source: USA Today | 11/16/2012
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