Freeport Maine Comfort Inn Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The three hospitalized in the Freeport, Maine Comfort Inn Carbon Monoxide poisoning continues pattern of hotel chains neglect of guest safety. Despite hundreds of serious carbon monoxide poisonings, hotels still fail to do the basic things to prevent serious injuries and death.

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

This morning’s Comfort Inn carbon monoxide poisoning at the Freeport, Maine is another preventable catastrophe that continues a long line of poisoning events at chain hotels. Click here for breaking news on this poisoning from Portland Press Herald . According to that story: “Fire crews evacuated the Comfort Suites on U.S. Route 1 around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday after a carbon monoxide detector found levels as high as 675 parts per million in one area of the hotel.”

Quality Inn Freeport Maine

Quality Inn Carbon Monoxide poisoning in Freeport Main is just one more in a long series of hotel poisonings, including more than a dozen at this same chain.

675 ppm of carbon monoxide poisoning is highly dangerous. That can be a deadly level, especially for someone who slept in such environment. It is because people sleep in hotels that we hear so many stories about carbon monoxide in hotels. In fact, this is the second time this month that there was a Comfort Inn carbon monoxide incident. Click here for the story of the June 2, 2021 poisoning Comfort Inn carbon monoxide poisoning in Gulfport, Mississippi.  https://www.wxxv25.com/gas-leak-at-comfort-inn-and-suites-in-gulfport-sends-five-to-hospital

Comfort Inn Carbon Monoxide Poisonings Must Stop

Why do these hotels keep poisoning their guests? What is responsible for so many poisonings? Why aren’t changes made? We have been asking these questions and trying to formulate answers since we started this blog, more than a decade ago. Our first carbon monoxide poisoning case was at a Days Inn in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2009 and since then, despite a clear shift in the standard of care to require carbon monoxide alarms in every room, hotels keep failing to protect their guests. Since that time, hundreds of more hotel carbon monoxide poisonings have occurred, yet it just keeps happening. Currently we are involved in carbon monoxide cases involving an Embassy Suites in Flagstaff, Arizona, a Staybridge Suites in Orlando, Florida and a Hawthorn Suites in Warren, Michigan. The systemic neglect in each of these poisonings was significant.

For a partial listing of recent incidents, go to the Jenkins Foundations website: https://thejenkinsfoundation.com/newsandupdates/ It is just staggering how often these poisonings occur. The Jenkins Foundation maintains a listing of hotel carbon monoxide poisonings. According to their list, there have been 13 Comfort Inn carbon monoxide poisonings[1], in addition to the two this month.

2018 Comfort Inn Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Those poisonings include a 2018 Comfort Inn carbon monoxide in San Antonio, Texas. The Jenkins Foundation describes that event as follows:

911 call at 1:40am for “a group” reporting they were ill from food poisoning; additional call for a second family with same symptoms prompted firefighters to check air quality; “found an exhaust pipe on a water heater that was disconnected and the exhaust was being sucked up by the room handlers”; “Investigators at the scene told reporter that the hotel did not have carbon monoxide detectors as local rules do not require it in hotels or motels.”

Another Comfort Inn poisoning occurred in Lubbock, Texas in 2020. In that case, the fire department found levels at 130 ppm.

Choice Hotels has Long Track Record of Carbon monoxide poisoning

Comfort Inn is part of the is part of the Choice Hotels, which also includes Cambria Hotels, Sleep Inn (5), Clarion (1), Clarion Pointe, Quality Inn (8), Mainstay (1), Woodspring Suites, Suburban, EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn (1). The number in parenthesis is the number of incidents reported by the Jenkins Foundation for each brand of the Choice Hotels.

What Causes Hotel CO Poisonings?

Hotel poisonings occur typically for three types of reasons:

  • a pool heater malfunctions,
  • the hot water boiler to provide hot water to guest in rooms (domestic hot water) malfunctions or;
  • heating unit (furnace or space heater) in the guest room malfunctions.

All of these types of poisonings can be eliminated. All three types of poisonings would be less severe if hotels would provide and maintain carbon monoxide alarms in every room. Despite the fact that carbon monoxide alarms in every room is becoming the standard for most major brands, this simple line of defense is still not being done in the hotels.

Pool Heater Malfunctions Tied to Death in Comfort Inn Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The most famous of the pool heater hotel incidents in the one that occurred in the Boone, North Carolina Best Western in 2013. Click here for one of our blogs about that poisoning. But the Comfort Inn has also had a fatality related to a pool heater. In April of 2017, Bryan Watts died in a Quality Inn and Suites in Niles, Michigan as a result of a pool heater malfunction. See our blog on this poisoning. In addition, six children were discovered unconscious. 800 levels in that Comfort Inn carbon monoxide poisoning were 800 ppm.

Domestic hot water boilers can also result in exceptionally high ambient air CO levels, as these boilers are often more than a million BTU each. Often, a major hotel will have more than one boiler to heat hot water throughout the hotel. Our initial CO poisoning case in 2009 involved a malfunctioning hot water boiler, as does our current Staybridge Suites case in Orlando, Florida. As these pieces of equipment are relatively more expensive to replace than other HVAC equipment at hotels, too often repairing and replacing them gets deferred. A consistent theme in hotel carbon monoxide cases is inadequate reserves and budgeting to repair and or replace these boilers when they approach the end of their useful life.

Another consistent problem with domestic hot water boilers is that maintenance is too often performed by improperly trained maintenance men. Hotels should retain outside HVAC firms to do annual preventive maintenance on any boiler, but especially one with a million BTU’s of capacity.

Furnaces can be a Cause of Hotel Events

If the hotel room is heated by a furnace or gas space heater, this can also be a cause of CO poisoning. While this cause is more common in apartment and residential poisoning cases, in those hotels which have gas appliances in each room, poisoning can occur. The priority of having a carbon monoxide detector in a room goes up if that room has its own fuel burning appliance. There is no excuse for the hotel industry to not provide the same protections that are mandated for apartments and homes, for all of its guests. Any time someone sleeps in a space, the risk of a deadly CO poisoning goes up.

For more on hotel carbon monoxide poisonings, Click here.

 

[1] This number includes poisonings at the related Comfort Suites, also a Choice Hotel brand.

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