La Quinta Fargo – Pool Heater and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Again?

Pool heater carbon monoxide at a hotel. How did this get to be such a routine event that is now a key search term? Winter used to be the time for carbon monoxide, to the point that the medical community generations ago labeled the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as “winter headache.” Carbon monoxide poisoning is thought to be associated with the heating season in the North. But one more time, one of the two main culprits has struck again. The pool heater. The other main culprit is portable generators, being used after power is lost or turned off.

Over the holiday weekend, the La Quinta Inn in Fargo North Dakota had high enough carbon monoxide levels in the pool area that a 9-year-old child was taken by ambulance to the hospital and 10 others sought treatment. The levels in the pool area were reported to be above 300 ppm. Often the reported ambient air ppm numbers are lower than they were when the emergency occurred because the area gets vented out before the fire department measures the levels.

This makes at least the sixth pool area carbon monoxide event we are aware of in the last couple of years. In Boone, North Carolina, there were two separate events involving fatalities from the same pool heater, a couple of months apart. In Niles, Michigan, one child died and nine others hospitalized from a pool heater. A few weeks later, another Detroit area hotel pool area had to be evacuated when the carbon monoxide alarm went off, before anyone was severely poisoned. A couple of years ago, a someone suffered severe carbon monoxide poisoning after a Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin area pool heater malfunction.

The one incident above that didn’t involve serious injury or death is the one in Novi, Michigan. The reason, the presence of a carbon monoxide detector. None was present in the other five events. Hotels have long been one of the principle areas of concern and litigation over carbon monoxide poisonings. There is no justification at this juncture for hotels not to be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms, especially in any area where there is a fuel burning appliance. Indoor pools have heated water, a lot of heated water. That requires a fuel burning appliance, too often in a setup separate from the better designed and maintained main boiler system.

Carbon monoxide detectors are needed everywhere in a hotel that the people are. But CO detectors at heated pools must be the starting point on that listed. What makes the poisoning emotionally more impactful is that there are usually children involved in those poisonings, because for children, going to the pool is the reason they are staying at the hotel. That means they will be at the pool longer, exercising more, inhaling more carbon monoxide. Children uptake carbon monoxide faster than adults and more easily succumb to its effects.

These tragedies must stop. They are avoidable. The responsibility for these tragedies needs to be moved up the franchise ladder. The Days Inns corporates, the Wyndham World Wide, the La Quinta Inn franchising body must do more to make sure the individual franchisor understands this peril. It is not enough to just “franchise” the name and the reservation system of the hotel. The franchise hotel chain must teach the operators of the hotels that run under their brand, how to do more than keep the light on, but to keep the air safe.



0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *