Hotel incident puts focus on carbon monoxide detectors
The Michigan hotel where a suspected gas leak sickened 14 people including a teenage boy who died was not required to have carbon monoxide detectors.
Bryan Douglas Watts, a 13-year-old from Niles, Michigan, died Saturday after he and several guests at the Quality Inn & Suites hotel, were found unconscious around an indoor pool.
Fire officials said they believe the cause was carbon monoxide poisoning.
Police said, when they arrived, carbon monoxide levels at the hotel were 800 parts per million, according to CNN affiliate WBND-TV. US standards for carbon monoxide are 35 parts per million for a one-hour exposure.
Niles Fire Department Captain Don Wise said the hotel’s pool room had no carbon monoxide detectors “to the best of our knowledge.”
According to the Michigan building code, all new buildings constructed after December 1, 2009 must contain carbon monoxide detectors.
Existing buildings, like the hotel, had until April 20 to install carbon monoxide detectors — a date that came hauntingly close to Saturday’s incident.
The majority of states don’t require carbon monoxide detectors in hotels and motels, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Thirteen states including Michigan, require installation of carbon monoxide detectors in hotels and motels.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is produced when a fuel is burned. When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, it can replace the oxygen in red blood cells and can lead to tissue damage or death.
Wise had attributed the weekend’s incident to a faulty pool heater.
“The ventilation system on the heater had issues. The exhaust was not functioning properly,” he said. “Our mechanical inspector verified that. The hotel is shut down now until repairs are made.”
Choice Hotels, which owns the Quality brand, had said in a statement that it was “working closely with local officials to manage the situation … Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our guests.”