News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Tom McGhee, The Denver Post
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 5, 2003 - Some hotel chains where carbon monoxide has poisoned guests are equipping their properties with alarms to detect the gas.
Vail Resorts, owners of the Snake River Lodge & Spa in Teton Village, Wyo., where one guest died and a second was injured by the odorless gas, is installing carbon monoxide detectors in all its properties, the company said.
Dallas-based La Quinta Corp. has outfitted 84 of its 370 hotels with the alarms following an incident at a Greenwood Village hotel that left one man with brain damage and four others injured in 2001, La Quinta spokeswoman Teresa Ferguson said.
Both incidents led to lawsuits. Vail Resorts is facing millions in damages in a trial underway in Cheyenne. La Quinta has settled suits brought by its afflicted guests for an undisclosed amount.
La Quinta has placed the detectors in properties that have pool heating pumps similar to the one that released the gas in a Greenwood Village La Quinta. The release was caused by a malfunctioning switch installed by a third party contractor, Ferguson said.
"We said to be on the safe side we will install these hard-wired systems in all of these properties just in case," Ferguson said.
There is no hotel industry standard for carbon monoxide detectors, said American Hotel & Lodging Association spokeswoman Tia Gordon.
Carbon monoxide detectors can cost between $20 and $50.
Called "the silent killer," carbon monoxide kills more than 125 people in the United States each year and sends thousands more to emergency rooms, said Scott Wolfson, spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington, D.C.
From 1999 to 2002, five hotel guests throughout the country died from carbon monoxide poisoning and another 42 were injured, according to the commission.
And though the commission strongly recommends that people put the alarms in their homes, few jurisdictions require them, Wolfson said.
Throughout the country only four states -- New York, Texas, New Jersey and West Virginia -- and a handful of local governments require the detectors in homes, Wolfson said.
Mecklenburg County, N.C. -- where Charlotte is located -- has one of the most comprehensive alarm requirements on its books, said Wolfson.
The county initiated the rules after four people died and three others were seriously injured when carbon monoxide leaked from a car left running in a garage attached to a four-unit condominium, said Bobby Cobb, Mecklenburg County health administrator.
Since that time, he said, the alarms have proven their worth. During an ice storm that cut power for up to 10 days in some places, carbon monoxide leaks triggered alarms in homes throughout the area.
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