Why don’t folks just buy carbon monoxide detectors?

An elderly couple in Overisel Township, Mich., was likely saved from death by carbon monoxide poisoning Wednesday by  carpet installers, according to the Holland Sentinel. The residents didn’t have a working carbon monoxide detector.

Four people — the two residents of the house and two workers — ended up being hospitalized in the incident, after being exposed to dangerous levels of the deadly gas.

The couple that lived in the home felt sick during the night, but had no idea why. So, the Holland Sentinel reported, the two elderly residents stayed in their bedroom Wednesday, still ill, when the carpet installers arrived and started working in another section of the house.

But by 10:45 a.m., some of the workers also started to feel sick. And before they got out of the house, they gathered up the two residents from their bedroom and took them outside, according to the Holland Sentinel, likely saving their lives.

Authorities said that the carbon monoxide came from a hot water heater in the home’s utility room.

And did I mention that the couple didn’t have a working carbon monoxide detector, according to the local newspaper?

The paper didn’t specify if the house had a carbon monoxide alarm, but its batteries were dead.




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.


By Attorney Gordon Johnson

Call me at 800-992-9447

The ironies of two separate fatal carbon monoxide catastrophes occurring within one room in the Best Western Inn in Boone, North Carolina are numerous.  However, at the core of this debate should be the monitoring of such properties, by the national chains that put their brands on them, such as Best Western.  When customer sees a brand name on a hotel, it creates a sense of trust, reliance that the chain is not only offering a clean, comfortable room, but also a safe room.  This incident, like almost every other hotel related carbon monoxide death, shows such reliance is false.

On Saturday, June 8, 2013, one person was found dead and another succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, in Room 225 of the Best Western Hotel in Boone.  What makes this a sensational story is that this is the second fatal incident involving carbon monoxide in that same room this year.  Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, both of Longview, Washington, also died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Room 225 on April 16.

While those from the public health department are now leaping to give press conferences  now that the story has gone virile, see one has to ask why this level of investigation wasn’t done after the first deaths?  Where was the outcry, where was the detailed forensic evaluation, where was the health department, the criminal investigation?  Was one set of avoidable deaths not enough?

The bigger irony in this story is the question is where was the Best Western chain, while all of this was happening?  Do they care? Did they send out an investigator? Did they simply rely on some boiler plate language that the hotel operator was an independent contractor, whose actual operation of the hotel, was not the Best Western’s responsibility?  According to, “

Unlike other chains, which are often a mix of company-owned and franchised units, each Best Western hotel is an independently owned and operated franchise. Best Western does not offer franchises in the traditional sense (where both franchisee and franchisor are operating for-profit), however. Instead, Best Western operates as a nonprofit membership association, with each franchisee acting and voting as a member of the association in the manner of a marketing co-operative.

Does this Best Western association share any blame? Do they have any responsibility to investigate what is happening to their brand when people die under the Best Western roof?  Regardless of how such issue is determined in court,  the consumer has to fight back.  When you check into a brand name hotel, you should be able to rely on the fact that someone has trained the operator of that hotel in basic public safety.  You should also be able to rely on the fact that when a fatal incident has occurred, the accountability for that will move up the ladder and that the chain whose brand is at stake, will make sure that the fatal conditions have been corrected.

Carbon monoxide may be invisible and odorless and has been called the silent killer. Regardless, it is not hard to detect.  CO detectors will warn of the risk as routinely as smoke detectors do.  Further, the conditions which cause carbon monoxide to occur, are predictable. Carbon monoxide gets into inside air when a combustion (fire) occurs, with insufficient fresh air, for complete combustion.  Complete combustion of a carbon fuel (natural gas), creates CO2, not CO.  A hot water heater running efficiently with enough fresh air to burn, shouldn’t create serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, as the exhaust should be largely CO2.  But far more critical is that the exhaust from any combustion, must be properly vented not only from the inside space, but also away from the building.  If there is the right combustion pressure within the building, the exhausts, regardless of how toxic, should flow all the way up the chimney.

While the exact cause of this CO leak has yet to be determined, a reasonable prediction is that this hot water heater was running in an environment where there was negative pressure inside of the building.  What that means is that there was not enough fresh air flowing through the flame of the hot water heater, to not only assure that there was complete combustion, but that the exhaust would flow freely up the chimney.

The public must demand not only that this hotel be punished for these wrongful deaths, but that all hotel chains, not just the Best Westerns, be operated by individuals with sufficient expertise and training in HVAC systems.  Hotel owners/operators must understand the basics of having a controlled fire inside the four walls of their buildings. Most hotels are run by small businesses, with only minimal training of employees.  Yet we entrust our very lives to them every night when we are on the road.  The national brands must demand not only such incident never happen twice in the same room, but that carbon monoxide moves from the category of an invisible killer, to a known assailant that must be prevented from attacking the innocent.

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

Call me at 800-992-9447

NBC News Tuesday did a report about the carbon monoxide case that I just blogged about: three deaths that took place in the same room in a Best Western hotel in Boone, N.C.

The point of the report, and it’s one I should have made, is that when you are traveling this summer and staying at hotels and motels, beware!

The case in point involved the death of an 11-year-old boy, Jeffrey Williams, of asphyxiation, at the hotel this weekend. There was carbon monoxide in the room.

In April, an elderly man and his wife — Daryl Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Jenkins, 72, of Washington State — had been found dead in the same hotel room. Toxicology reports had been pending on the cause of their deaths, and yet the Best Western still took the chance of renting out the room where they perished — and where Williams later perished.

As it turned out, the test results came back, and the couple died of asphyxia due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The room where both Williams and the Jenkins stayed was above space where there is a natural gas heater for an indoor pool.

So be warned. While hotels under state law typically have to install smoke detectors, very few states mandate that hotels install carbon monoxide detectors.

So when you check into a hotel, ask if they have CO alarms. If not, NBC News advises you to keep a window open in your room.








More than two dozen workers and one firefighter were sent to the hospital for treatment Monday after a carbon monoxide leak at a tortilla chip factory in North Carolina, according to the Gaston Gazette.

The cause of the apparent leak at the R.W. Garcia plant in Lincolnton was under investigation.

Workers at the facility called 911 around noon after one of them became sick, the Gazette reported. Soon a number of employees working in an office area began to experience the typical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, namely headaches and nausea.

Authorities detected high levels of carbon monoxide at the plant, and they evacuated it.

It turned out that 27 workers and one firefighter were sent to the hospital, with 10 workers testing to have high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, according to the Gazette.






You run a hotel where an elderly married couple died several months ago, and toxicology reports are still pending on their deaths. But carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected. Yet you rent out that same room where they died, and an 11-year-old dies there this weekend.

You can’t make this stuff up.

In Boone, N.C., Jeffrey Lee Williams of Rock Hill died Saturday at the local Best Western. He had been exposed to carbon monoxide, and an autopsy determined that he died of asphyxiation, according to WCNC. His mother Jeannie, 49, was hospitalized and woke up from a coma Sunday.

The Best Western was evacuated Saturday in the wake of Willis’s death.

Williams was found dead in the same room where the bodies of Daryl and Shirley Jenkins were discovered in April, according to WCNC. Toxicology results on the Jenkins were just released, and confirmed that they perished from carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to WCNC, the Best Western had been ordered to address a ventilation problem in an equipment room by a local inspector prior to all three deaths at the hotel. Officials wouldn’t comment on whether the violation had been fixed.

The room where everyone died is directly above an equipment room that had a natural gas heater for an enclosed indoor pool.

A Christmas Day fire in Connecticut killed a 9-year-old girl, her twin 7-year-old sisters and their grandparents. But some good has come of their tragic deaths in 2911.

The Nutmeg State’s Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that mandates that one- and two-family homes have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in place at the time of sale, according to the Stamford Advocate. Last year the bill failed to get passed. Hopefully, this year will be different. It will be going to Gov. Daniel Malloy next for his approval.

The proposed legislation came in response to the deaths of Lily Badger, her sisters Sarah and Grace and their grandparents in Shippan, Conn. The house they were staying in was undergoing renovations, and didn’t have carbon monoxide or smoke detectors, the Advocate said. If it had them, the five fire victims would probably be alive today.

If passed, the new law would take effect Jan. 1 next year.  Sellers who don’t have homes with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors would be required to fork over $250 to the buyer at closing to pay for the installation of the alarms.

The El Cortez Hotel in Reno had its second carbon monoxide leak in three weeks, according to KOLO.

On Saturday visitors were evacuated from the hotel after a carbon monoxide detector sounded an alert. Several local fire department engines responded to the scene, KOLO said. The visitors were later allowed to return to the El Cortez. No one was hospitalized.

Authorities believe that a water heater was the source of the deadly gas, KOLO reported. The hotel was without hot water for some time, which forced a ground floor restaurant to be closed.

On May 11 the El Cortez had a similar carbon monoxide leak. In that incident, 12 people were hospitalized.