N.C. Hotel Deaths a Reminder of Carbon Monoxide Danger at Home
In the wake of three deaths at a North Carolina hotel, the Best Western chain ordered this week that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all of its rooms in North America.
Last year, a carbon monoxide leak at the Best Western in Boone, N.C., killed an 11-year-old Charlotte-area boy and a couple from Washington state. Last month, dozens of guests were sickened by carbon monoxide fumes at a Pennsylvania Best Western.
The North Carolina deaths and Pennsylvania illnesses are somber reminders that homeowners, too, should take care to protect their families against the colorless, odorless gas that can sometimes build up in homes, often from leaks in appliances or fireplaces.
Experts say there are a number of things you can do to minimize the risk of CO poisoning in your home:
Buy CO detectors
There’s no reason, really, not to have carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home, experts say. They’re inexpensive and easy to install by you or an HVAC professional.
Carbon monoxide detectors are also required for all new homes built in Charlotte.
“We highly recommend you have them,” says Dee Anderson of Nick & Co., a highly rated heating and A/C company in Charlotte. “Anytime we’re installing a new system into a home, we talk to people about making sure they have one, especially with gas heat.”
The best CO alarms, which can cost $200 or more, let you know when even low levels of carbon monoxide are present in your home. They also are portable, so you can take them from room to room to make sure you and your family are breathing safe air.
Check your home for gas leaks annually
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of the combustion process, so homeowners — especially if they have gas appliances — should regular check the places where any kind of fuel burns.
Have your chimney inspected regularly to make sure fireplace smoke has a clear path up and out of your home. Have your gas appliances checked by a licensed contractor every one or two years.
Homeowners can do their own inspections, too. Check the exhaust of your gas-fired dryer for accumulated lint, which can push CO back in your home.
If you have an attached garage, check the walls and corners for cracks. Over time, cracks and crevices can develop that allow carbon monoxide to enter the home. Here’s more on the carbon monoxide danger that might be lurking in your garage.
Be smart with fuel
A good rule of thumb for carbon monoxide prevention: If a fuel-based product or appliance is designed for outdoor use, keep it outdoors. Don’t burn charcoal inside. Don’t use a camping lantern inside. Don’t use any gas-powered tools or engines inside — even inside a garage.
Also, don't use gas-fired appliances such as dryers, stoves or ovens to heat your home.