Carbon monoxide kills hotel guest and sickens others

As travelers, we all know that when you leave your house, you begin to assume certain risks that are inherent to travel. Staying at a reputable hotel chain is generally not thought of as a high risk behavior… until now.

Last week, a 63-year-old South Carolina man was found dead in his Best Western hotel room in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania with what officials are saying was carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the official cause of death has not been released, pending autopsy of the victim.

According to, “Authorities at a news conference earlier today said an exterior plastic canopy for a masonry project caused carbon monoxide from hot water heaters to back up into the building.”

The level of CO was apparently so high that first responders, including paramedics and police officers, were physically ill upon entering the building. The scene was described as “chaotic” with guests laying on the floor and turning blue from poor oxygenation. There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the hotel.

Four guests and five rescue personnel were taken to local hospitals. The initial presentation was of a hotel guest calling an ambulance reporting “flu-like” symptoms. One hour later, reports of two guest losing consciousness prompted a full response of police, fire and ambulance services. The building was properly ventilated and CO levels returned to acceptable levels.

You can never know what to expect when you travel, maybe that is why we all love it? Still, personal safety and awareness should be at the forefront of every one’s mind, no matter where they are. As proven by this very unfortunate incident.