High Levels of Carbon Monoxide at Lakeland Sleep Inn

The Lakeland Sleep Inn, Lakeland, Florida is one more case of CO happening again at a hotel where safety wasn’t a priority.

By Rebecca Martin

We are beginning to wonder if it is karma. We write a blog about some huge safety failing in the hotel industry, and within days there will be another hotel carbon monoxide poisoning. In our last blog we talked about legislation surrounding carbon monoxide detector requirements in the hospitality industry, including upcoming changes to the International Fire Codes and the start of House Bill H.R.1460 which addressed many areas of concern in regard to carbon monoxide safety. We also previously discussed the concept of business ethics in relation to public safety, especially by those in the hospitality industry, in response to several carbon monoxide incidents in lodging facilities which resulted in evacuations, injuries and fatalities. In every case we ask, why is this still happening?

On the morning of March 13th, around 11 am, the presence of gas was reported at the Lakeland Sleep Inn & Suites in Lakeland, Florida. The caller reported feeling lightheaded and an unusual smell. Guests had complained of symptoms compatible with carbon monoxide poisoning. The building was consequently evacuated and eight people were transported to the hospital, including four children.

First responders had measured carbon monoxide levels at the Lakeland Sleep Inn of approximately 160 PPM in the second floor rooms.

“Authorities said the source of the carbon monoxide was discovered to be within a riser room with commercial water heaters. A venting pipe was disconnected, and the reported level of CO was 550 PPM” https://www.wfla.com/news/polk-county/8-hospitalized-for-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-at-polk-county-hotel/

Lakeland Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Craw reported:

“The cause of it (the Lakeland Sleep Inn Carbon Monoxide poisoning) was one of the water heaters for the business had a mechanical failure and it was venting into the mechanical room itself which was then getting into the rooms of the residents,” https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2022/03/13/4-children-among-8-hospitalized-in-gas-leak-at-lakeland-hotel-officials-say/

An investigator with the Lakeland Fire Department, Zak Scripter, added that the problem was traced to “an exhaust line that had disconnected from a water heater.” https://www.fox13news.com/news/carbon-monoxide-poisoning-at-lakeland-hotel-sends-8-including-children-to-hospital

The building was ventilated by opening doors and windows. Guests were allowed to return to their rooms around 12:30 pm once readings for carbon monoxide reached zero. Those transported to the hospital had all been released by the following day. Two had spent the night in the hospital.

“Sleep Inn and Suites declined to comment, but on Wednesday, plumbers hired by the company say they were replacing water heaters.” https://www.fox13news.com/news/carbon-monoxide-poisoning-at-lakeland-hotel-sends-8-including-children-to-hospital

Though strange odors had been reported at the scene, fire officials warned that carbon monoxide itself is odorless, and without carbon monoxide detectors, its presence is not detectable. What is always left unsaid in those statements is that when the carbon monoxide levels are very high, likely above 4,000 ppm, you may smell the unburned fuel, even though you aren’t smelling the CO. Never ignore such a smell. When CO comes along with noticeable smells of unburned fuel, the levels may be deadly.

The Lakeland Sleep Inn poisoning is another hospitality industry incident which might have been detected earlier with the properly placed and functioning carbon monoxide detectors.

For more on the symptoms that those poisoned here might experience, click here. Remember, carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can continue to get worse for days and weeks after the poisoning.


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