Is Your Hotel Looking After You?

When travelers book hotel stays they tend to worry about rates and amenities like restaurants and pools.  Yet evidence suggests they should also consider safety.  Travelers should now find out if their prospective hotel is equipped with a life-saving carbon dioxide detector.  Recent hotel deaths have prompted the state of North Caroline to initiate legislation that requires its hotels to each install a carbon dioxide detector.  However, compliance is slow and travelers are encouraged to find out this vital information before booking their stay.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless.  It is a silent killer.  CO poisoning is stealthy.  Someone suffering from carbon monoxide symptoms might exhibit flu symptoms like nausea and headaches.  According to, “Gas-powered clothing dryers could generate carbon monoxide if there is a malfunction”.  Rooms near dryers with CO leaks or near pools with certain types of heaters as well as the heating apparatus itself could be at risk when there is a CO leak.  Installing a carbon dioxide detector could help keep hotel guests safe as well as hotel employees.

Complying Hotels

Many hotel owners are happy with this new legislation.  For one, installing a carbon dioxide detector—even several—is an affordable endeavor.  Moreover, it is practical and will help create a safe environment for guests.  The article asserted that “Typically, industries do not like new government requirements that cost them money, but the hotel owners are happy about the new law, saying that the cost is not too high and it makes their customers feel safe.”  While the North Carolina law is now in effect, other states may also want to consider introducing this type of legislation that prompts hotels to take vital safety precautions.

Non-Complying Hotels

The Charlotte Observer recently reported that many hotels are not complying with this North Carolina law.  In fact, “Few hotels in the Charlotte area appear to be complying with a new state law requiring installation of carbon monoxide detectors”.  The law took effect in August; however, even by December, a mere few hotels have appeared to comply with this law.  The legislation was enacted after three people died in a hotel because of carbon monoxide poisoning.  The deaths made headlines throughout the state. 

As the report stated, “Complying with the law isn’t difficult or costly: battery-operated or electric alarms cost less than $75. Lodging establishments aren’t required to connect alarms to their buildings’ electrical wiring until Oct. 1, 2014.”  Inspectors are now being trained to check that hotels are installing the required carbon dioxide detectors.

Safety and CO Detectors

Laws that require hotels to install CO detectors are rare even though twenty-seven states are mandatory for new homes,” according to the Charlotte Observer report.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that roughly 400 people die from CO poisoning each year.  It’s now up to inspectors and even guests to demand the placement of carbon monoxide detectors.  Guests might simply avoid procuring lodging from any venue that does not have CO detectors in place.  This isn’t simply a North Carolina issue either.  Travelers must take this precaution no matter where they travel.  For situations where there is no avoiding lodging without a CO detector, consider traveling with a travel carbon monoxide detector. 

Beyond North Carolina

Alarming CO levels have been uncovered at hotels in other states too.  Last year guests at a Vermont hotel were evacuated when high levels of CO were discovered according to a USA Today report.  A guest also died at a West Virginia hotel in 2012 and sixteen were hospitalized from this same incident.  The report states that “the National Fire Protection Association says 81,100 non-fire carbon monoxide incidents were reported to U.S. fire departments in 2010.” 

Although CO leaks are relatively rare, they do occur.  It would cost millions for every hotel room to be outfitted with a carbon dioxide detector.  However, that cost could easily be absorbed by individual hotels and chains.  Moreover, even raising room rates modestly could result pay for this life-saving measure.  Often it takes an accident to prompt people to take safety measures; hopefully, in this case, hotel owners won’t wait for another incident before getting those detectors installed.

Take Your Own Detector

First Alert CO600 Plug In Carbon Monoxide Alarm
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(price as of Jan 16, 2014)