Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Hotels: How SOLUM Roommate Can Prevent It

Hotels are known to be safe havens for travelers who are away from home. But one colorless and odorless gas can also endanger people after too much exposure. Carbon monoxide poisoning is, unfortunately, a common case in hotels. It will take safety measures, proper information, and even a portable air quality monitor to keep everyone safe.


What is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide gas builds up in the bloodstream, which leads to serious tissue damage and potentially even death. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas produced by burning fuels, such as gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal, or other fossil fuels.

Too much carbon monoxide in the air can lead the body to replace oxygen in the red blood cells with carbon monoxide. In enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces, CO can accumulate to dangerous levels. When inhaled, carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin in the blood to form carboxyhemoglobin. This reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen, effectively depriving cells and tissues of the oxygen they need to function.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:


  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  • Coma (for extreme cases)


Carbon monoxide poisoning can come from different sources as well. This includes faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, gas stoves and ovens, car exhaust fumes (particularly in enclosed spaces like garages), blocked chimneys, portable generators, charcoal grills used indoors or in confined spaces, and more.

Understanding the risks and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and knowing how to take preventive measures, the dangers associated with CO can be significantly mitigated.


Common places where CO poisoning occurs
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning commonly occurs in places or environments where fuel-burning appliances or engines are used. This is especially true in small, enclosed areas or poorly ventilated spaces.

Some specific common places where CO poisoning can occur include:


Residential or Commercial Settings

  • Homes with fuel-burning appliances: Furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, and gas stoves can produce carbon monoxide if they are not properly maintained or ventilated.
  • Garages: Running a car engine in a closed garage can quickly lead to CO buildup. This includes warming up the car or leaving it running for short periods of time.
  • Basements: Furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances are often located in basements. Ventilation here might be inadequate, which can lead to poisonous CO buildup.
  • Kitchens: Gas stoves and ovens can emit carbon monoxide, especially if used for long periods without proper ventilation.
  • Living rooms: Using portable kerosene or propane heaters without proper ventilation can lead to CO accumulation as well.
  • Recreational and Outdoor Settings
  • Boats: Engines, generators, and gas-powered appliances can produce CO, especially in enclosed cabins.
  • Tents and campers: Using fuel-burning heaters or stoves inside tents or campers can lead to significant CO buildup.
  • Barbecues and grills: Using charcoal grills or gas barbecues in enclosed spaces like garages or tents can produce dangerous levels of CO as well.


Occupational Settings

  • Factories and workshops: Places where machinery and vehicles are operated indoors, such as warehouses and factories, can have carbon monoxide buildup if not well-maintained.
  • Construction sites: Use of fuel-burning equipment and generators in enclosed or poorly ventilated construction sites can lead to dangerous CO exposure.
  • Commercial kitchens: Large-scale use of gas stoves and ovens without adequate ventilation can cause CO accumulation as well.
  • Public Settings and Other Buildings
  • Schools and offices: If schools, offices, and other public buildings use fuel-burning heating systems or emergency generators, inadequate maintenance or ventilation can pose a CO poisoning risk.
  • Hotels: Hotel rooms and accommodations with faulty heating systems can also lead to a CO risk. Guests using portable heaters improperly can also contribute to a possible CO poisoning.


Carbon monoxide can build up and lead to poisoning in various environments and situations. The key is to maintain proper ventilation and maintenance in homes, offices, workplaces, and more. Knowing proper usage is also important to keep everyone in the vicinity safe.


Cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels
There have been numerous cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels over the years. Between 1989 and 2004, there have been 68 incidents of CO poisoning occurring at hotels, motels, and resorts. These resulted in over 700 poisonings and over 20 deaths.

Since hotels use big heating systems and multiple appliances in every unit, it’s no surprise that CO poisoning incidents like these have been reported. These incidents often result from faulty heating systems, water heaters, and inadequate ventilation of CO-producing appliances.

Here are a few notable recent cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels:

  1. Hotel in Boone, North Carolina (2013): Three people died in two separate incidents, including an elderly couple and an 11-year-old boy, within two months at a hotel due to a malfunctioning pool water heater. This leaked carbon monoxide into the rooms above the pool area, leading to the untimely deaths of the three victims.
  2. Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee (2018): Multiple guests were hospitalized due to a CO poisoning incident in a downtown Nashville hotel. Elevated CO levels were caused by a defective heating unit in the workout and pool areas of the hotel.
  3. Hotel in Winnipeg, Canada (2019): Over 50 people and a dog were hospitalized after a carbon monoxide leak in a Winnipeg motel, which was traced to a malfunctioning boiler in the basement. Inadequate ventilation was pointed out as the main cause of the CO buildup in the motel.


Causes of CO poisoning in hotels
The known causes of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in hotels typically involve issues with fuel-burning appliances and heating equipment, inadequate ventilation, and improper maintenance. Here are some of the primary causes:

  1. Faulty Heating Systems: Malfunctioning or poorly maintained heating systems, such as boilers and furnaces, can leak CO into guest rooms and common areas.
  2. Poor Ventilation or Ventilation Problems: Lack of proper ventilation for fuel-burning appliances, such as water heaters or generators, can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate indoors.
  3. Malfunctioning Water Heaters or Appliances: Gas-powered water heaters or appliances can emit CO if they are not functioning correctly. Issues such as blocked flues or poor combustion can lead to significant CO buildup.
  4. Improper Installation of Systems or Appliances: Incorrect installation of heating systems can lead to CO emissions. This includes poor venting or sealing issues that allow CO to leak indoors.
  5. Emergency Generators: During power outages, the use of emergency generators, if not properly ventilated, can lead to CO buildup.
  6. Indoor Pools and Spas: Pool and spa heaters that burn fuel can be sources of CO if not properly maintained or vented.
  7. Construction or Renovation Activities: During construction or renovation, temporary heating devices are often used. If these devices are fuel-burning and not properly vented, they can produce CO. Construction activities might also temporarily seal spaces or block ventilation, leading to CO accumulation.

Ways to prevent CO poisoning in hotel rooms
Addressing potential causes, and risks, and implementing safety protocols is important if businesses, especially hotels, want to avoid any CO poisoning incidents. Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in hotel rooms involves a combination of proper maintenance, ventilation, detection, and education among staff and guests.

Here are some key strategies and methods for preventing CO-poisoning incidents in hotels:

  1. Installation and Maintenance of CO Detectors: Place carbon monoxide detectors in every guest room, as well as common areas such as hallways, near mechanical rooms, and any place where fuel-burning appliances are located. It’s also important to test CO detectors monthly and replace batteries at least once a year. Replace the detectors themselves according to the manufacturer’s recommendations as well.
  2. Regular Inspection and Maintenance of Appliances: Schedule regular inspections and maintenance of all appliances, including boilers, furnaces, water heaters, stoves, and fireplaces. Ensure these appliances are serviced by qualified professionals. In case of any damage, promptly repair any identified issues to prevent CO leaks.
  3. Ensure Adequate Ventilation: Make sure all fuel-burning appliances are properly vented to the outside. This includes checking that vents, flues, and chimneys are clear of blockages and in good repair. Mechanical ventilation systems are also beneficial, especially in areas where appliances are used, to ensure that fresh air is circulated and CO is vented out.
  4. Practice Safe Use of Appliances: Train hotel staff on the safe operation of all fuel-burning appliances and the importance of keeping vents and flues unobstructed. It’s also crucial to inform guests about the presence and purpose of CO detectors in their rooms. Provide instructions on what to do if a detector alarm sounds, including evacuating the room and notifying hotel staff immediately.
  5. Emergency Preparedness: Establish clear protocols for responding to CO detector alarms. This includes immediate evacuation of affected areas, contacting emergency services, and providing medical attention to those exhibiting symptoms of CO poisoning. Make sure to also conduct regular evacuation drills to ensure staff and guests are familiar with the procedures in case of a CO leak emergency.
  6. Proper Use of Temporary Heating: Use only approved temporary heating devices indoors and ensure they are properly ventilated. Avoid using fuel-burning heaters in enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation.
  7. Inspection After Renovations: After any construction or renovation work, have a qualified professional inspect all fuel-burning appliances and ventilation systems to ensure they are operating safely and efficiently.
  8. Continuous Monitoring and Improvements: Keep up-to-date with local regulations and best practices regarding CO safety. Implement new technologies and strategies as they become available.

How SOLUM Roommate can protect hotel rooms
A portable air quality monitor can also help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels. A little bit different from a CO detector, a portable air quality monitor can be used by any individual to help keep them safe while they stay at a hotel. A good example would be SOLUM Roommate.

SOLUM Group brings a smarter way to cleaner air with the SOLUM Roommate. It’s a portable smart air quality monitor that can detect pollutants in any indoor environment. Apart from this primary benefit, SOLUM Roommate can also help in managing temperature, cleanliness, and moisture content indoors. This can be beneficial to any hotel room as it can be used by guests, hotel staff, admin staff, and anyone in the vicinity.


SOLUM Roommate is equipped with:


  • Air quality monitoring and measuring
  • Downloadable SOLUM Roommate app
  • Plug-in type operation
  • Built-in motion detector
  • LED light indicators
  • Temperature monitor
  • Humidity level monitor
  • Discomfort index monitor


Once plugged in, the LED indicator will change color depending on the quality of the indoor air. Blue for good air quality, Purple for moderate, and Red for poor. Evacuation is necessary if it blinks Red continuously.

SOLUM Roommate can help guests and staff avoid indoor air pollution and alert people to dangerous levels of pollutants, including harmful airborne contaminants, gas leaks, toxic gases, and other pollutants. Guests can rest easy as this air quality monitor can help keep them away from harm, such as CO poisoning in hotels.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk that should not be taken lightly. Not by guests, not by hotel staff, not by hotel administrators. An air quality monitor such as SOLUM Roommate can be the perfect handy tool for everyone.

SOLUM Marketing


carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels
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