After the senseless deaths of three people, it looks like North Carolina will be passing legislation that would require hotels to put carbon monoxide detectors next to fuel-burning appliances, the Charlotte News & Observer reported Wednesday.

The proposal has been added to a bill that was approved by a House committee this week, and comes on the heels of the news that several people died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning at a Best Western in Boone, N.C.

On April 16 an elderly couple, Daryl and Shirley Mae Jenkins, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a leak in a pool heater when they were staying at the Best Western. On June 8, 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams and his mother Jeannie stayed in the same room as the Jenkins, and they also suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. Williams died, and his mother is still trying to recovery from her injuries.

The proposed legislation would mandate that hotels install carbon monoxide detectors “in every enclosed space with a fossil-fuel burning heater, appliance of fireplace — and in every hotel room that shares a common wall, floor or ceiling with such spaces,” the News & Observer wrote.

The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association helped draw up the proposal, which would direct the state’s Building Code Council to adopt the new rules regarding the carbon monoxide alarms. The body is set to meet in early September.

North Carolina is one of 27 states that mandate that new homes have carbon monoxide detectors, but it doesn’t require lodging facilities to have them, according to the News & Observer.

It was heartening to read that some national chains take it upon themselves to install carbon monoxide detectors in their hotels. La Quinta Inns & Suites puts them in every area where there’s a pool with gas-fired equipment, while Marriott requires CO alarms “wherever fuel-burning equipment is located within a hotel,” the News & Observer wrote.


I’ve done several blogs on the lessons to be learned, and actions that should be taken, after three guests perished from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Best Western Hotel in Boone, N.C.

To refresh your memory, an elderly couple — Daryl Jenkins, 72, and his wife Shirley, 72 — were found dead in hotel room 225 on April 16.

Watauga County Medical Examiner Dr. Brent Hall knew on June 1 that carbon monoxide was the culprit in the death of Shirley, according to lab tests.

But for some inexplicable reason, Hall didn’t warn local police about the threat to Best Western guests until another one of them — 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams — died of CO poisoning the the same room as the Jenkins, Room 225, on June 8, according to The Charlotte Observer and WCNC.

Boone police didn’t get toxicology reports from Hall on the couple until June 10. Daryl Jenkins’ toxicology report had come in the day before.

Hall resigned from his post on Friday.

As I’ve written, hotels have an obligation to not just evacuate guests if there is a carbon monoxide leak. Hotel officials need to find the source of the carbon monoxide leak and remedy the situation. The hotel should not take in any guests until this is all done.

In addition, a hotel like the Best Western needs to follow-up with recent guests to determine if they suffered any bodily damage, including brain injury, as the result of their exposure to carbon monoxide.

And there’s a case on point here, which has just come to light. Three days after the Jenkins died at the Best Western in Boone,  a group of girls celebrating a sleepover 13th birthday party in a suite above the contaminated room became ill, according to The Charlotte Observer and WCNC.

 The girls complained of symptoms typical of carbon monoxide poisoning, including headaches and vomiting. The mother who had rented the room, 325, for her daughter’s pool party said she told hotel officials what happened. They were nonchalant and didn’t indicate they would take any action, despite the fact the elderly couple had died just days before of suspected CO poisoning.

The young girls should need to have medical exams.



By Attorney Gordon Johnson

Call me at 800-992-9447

Carbon monoxide poisoning has ruined another summer weekend, this time at the  Travel Lodge Hotel in Lake Delton, Wisconsin.  Carbon monoxide was discovered at the hotel when an employee at the hotel was taken ill. At the hospital, it was determined that carbon monoxide was the cause.  Lake Delton police and fire then determined that there a high level of carbon monoxide in the hotel, according to Fox News 6:

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Essential for Carbon Monoxide Exposure

According to first reports several others were found to have been poisoned and taken to Milwaukee for treatment.  As hyperbaric oxygen treatment is the norm for such cases, it is hoped that all those identified to have carboxyhemoglobin in his or her blood, are receiving such treatment right now.

This case is further evidence for our point made yesterday, that in such cases, the hotels obligation to the public is not just to ask those evacuated whether they might feel ill.  See The hotel has a clear obligation to discover the cause of the carbon monoxide and how it got outside of the chimney which should be exhausting it.  Under no circumstances should any guests be allowed back in the hotel until repairs are made and extensive testing be done to prove everything is safe.

Guarantee to All Guests That Hotel is Carbon Monoxide Free

The hotel needs to understand that returning guests to the hotel would be like flying passengers in an airplane, when a warning light is going off. Until such time as the cause of the warning light is determined and repaired, the FAA and any responsible airline would not allow the plane to fly.  Carbon monoxide can be just as dangerous as a broken airliner and can result in a similar mass catastrophe.

All Cases of CO Poisoning Must be Found and Treated

Further, the CO poisoning may not have started today. Carbon monoxide poisoning is not always recognized as such, as apparently it was not initially done here.  Thus, there could be others who are suffering from its effects who were not still at the hotel when emergency crews arrived.  Carboxyhemoglobin may be still in the blood of guests who had already departed the hotel and those who have been in the hotel recently.

Just because a person does not succumb to carbon monoxide immediately, does not mean that they may not have serious health risks from it.  Anyone with flu like symptoms, heart symptoms, or other organ problems, can be experiencing those issues because of CO. It is critical to remember that the effects of CO damage can actually get worse over time.   As we discussed yesterday, Delayed Neurological Sequelae (DNS) occurs in a substantial proportion of those with CO poisoning for up to 40 days after the carbon monoxide exposure. Thus, it is imperative that all those exposed be monitored until they are symptom free.

No Repeat of the Double Carbon Monoxide Tragedy of Boone

We can only hope that the national attention that the double tragedy in the Boone North Carolina Best Western, will have its impact on Lake Delton.  The tragedy of Room 225 in Boone, North Carolina, can not be repeated in Wisconsin. One fatal carbon monoxide catastrophe is too much.  Preventing further deaths and injuries can only be done by making sure that all those with carbon monoxide poisoning get full medical treatment.  And for God’s sake, put a carbon monoxide detector in every single room. More on that tomorrow.

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

Call me at 800-992-9447

In the wake of the carbon monoxide deaths at the Best Western in Boone, North Carolina, the concern should not be just for those who died, but for anyone who was in that hotel, not just on June 8, 2013, but on the day of the first two fatalities this year. See our blog of yesterday at  discussing the June 8, 2013 death of the two deaths on April 16, 2013, all in room 225 of the Best Western.

The owner of the hotel today put out a statement, through its attorney stating “The health and safety of guests who stay at our hotel is our number one priority.”  See  If the health of those who have stayed at the Best Western is truly the concern, then the hotel should be contacting at a minimum, every single person who has stayed in Room 225 this year, or at least certainly since April 16, 2013.

What the statement did not address is just how many times that room has been rented over the last few months, nor how it is that both the owners of the property and the Best Western chain did nothing to diagnose and fix a problem that had already killed two people.

Carboxyhemoglobin Test Should Be Given to All Recent Guests

It is clear that not only the Best Western, but health officials have lost sight of the fact that carbon monoxide is not only potentially fatal, it can cause permanent brain damage and other organ damage, to those who survive.  At the press conference yesterday, the Boone health department officials noted that carbon monoxide levels were elevated in other places in the hotel.  If so, then every single guest who was in an area where CO was found, should have been sent to the hospital and had his or her blood tested for CO.  At a minimum a test to determine the carboxyhemoglobin in the blood.  Carboxyhemoglobin is the compound that occurs in the blood when carbon monoxide (CO) takes the place of oxygen, O2 in hemoglobin, in the red blood cells.

If in fact the cause of the CO poisoning was the pool heater, then anytime that pool heater was on since at least as early as the first deaths, then carbon monoxide was undoubtedly present, at least in Room 225.  But poison gases don’t come with a keycard. The CO likely went anywhere that air could flow in the hotel. While no other deaths were reported, the symptoms of CO poisoning are not always diagnosed immediately because they can be attributed to flu or other health problems.  Even heart attacks can be caused by CO poisoning, especially in those with compromised health.

Delayed Problems after Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Anything that has the potential to kill through asphyxiation, has the potential to cause permanent brain damage and severe other organ damage.  Those who survived may still be at risk of serious problems. What makes such concerns even more urgent with those who have been in the Boone Best Western is that carbon monoxide can continue to cause organ and tissue damage for other to 40 days after exposure.  A condition called Delayed Neurological Sequelae (DNS) is caused by the carboxyhemoglobin continuing to bond to the red blood cells for extended periods of time after the carbon monoxide poisoning.  See our treatment of DNS at

The symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure in those who survive include:

Early Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Headache, nausea and dizziness.  The more the exposure, the more severe the symptoms become.  Loss of consciousness which does not result in death may occur, as well as memory problems and confusion.  The problem with identifying loss of consciousness in a hotel, is that most of the guests would be expected to be asleep for much of their stay.

Heart Symptoms after Carbon Monoxide Exposure.

Potential heart and cardiovascular problems are varied.  It may begin with tachycardia – an increase in heart rate (rapid heart beat).  This is in response to insufficient oxygen (hypoxia.)  Hypotension (a drop in blood pressure) with possible syncope (fainting) can also occur. Dysrhythmia’s (an irregular heart beat) and other heart issues, including heart attacks, can also occur.

Kidney Failure and CO.

Carbon monoxide can also cause kidney failure.

Unborn Babies and Carbon Monoxide.

As with most toxins, it is much more dangerous to unborn babies.

For more on the symptoms of carbon monoxide damage, see

The results of the autopsy of the first couple that died weren’t released until after this second fatal incident.  Now is the time for greater diligence, not just to prevent future problems, but to make sure that all those who have been exposed get treated.