Travel carbon monoxide detector – Do we need one?

The following is an article I recently wrote for Mommy Nearest in my role as an Expert Mom

One of our responsibilities as parents is to ensure the safety of our children as much as we can. Understanding that we cannot control everything, we still do our best to keep them out of harm’s way. When they’re toddlers, we put up baby gates in the house so they don’t go tumbling down the stairs. When they’re out bike-riding, we make sure they’re wearing their helmets. When they’re teenagers and begin driving, we stress the importance of wearing seat belts.

These are measures we take at home. How about when we travel? Do we ease up at all? I know I don’t. If we’re traveling to a new destination and looking for places to stay, I research the surrounding neighborhoods and even ask local residents via social media about the area. I read property reviews. I do whatever I can to eliminate factors that would put my family in danger. So when I heard a story about a young boy dying of carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel, I was floored. First of all, the tragedy had me reeling because I couldn’t imagine losing one of my own children. Secondly, of all the traveling my family has done – and even solo travel I’ve done – not once has the thought of a carbon monoxide detector entered my mind while planning and researching. Does this make me an irresponsible parent? Does this mean I love my children any less? Does it make me a bad traveler?

CO alarmI started doing some research on the topic and learned that only a handful of states require carbon monoxide detectors in hotels. Illinois is one such state, but the law’s language is still rather vague:

“The State of Illinois Public Act 094-0741 requires that a carbon monoxide detector be installed within 15 feet of all sleeping rooms of all dwelling units. This may require multiple detectors for homes or apartments. The law applies to single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, apartments, hotels, and motels.”

Does this mean that a carbon monoxide detector should be in every single hotel room in the state of Illinois, each of which is a “sleeping room”? What about other states? What about other countries? My family is preparing for a trip to Europe where we will be staying in apartments; will they be equipped with detectors?

The young boy in the news story I heard was eleven years old and staying at a hotel in Boone, North Carolina, with his mother. It was later discovered that the exhaust pipe of the hotel’s swimming pool heater was damaged and leaking lethal amounts of carbon monoxide. Even more chilling, an elderly couple had perished in the exact same room, also from carbon monoxide poisoning, just seven weeks prior.

North Carolina now has a law in place requiring carbon monoxide detectors in some areas of hotels, but there are no federal regulations, unlike smoke detectors. Will this stop my family and me from traveling? Of course not. Have I considered purchasing a travel carbon monoxide alarm to bring along on our trips? I’d be lying if I said no. Lastly, will I be more diligent in asking questions about carbon monoxide detectors at our lodging sites when we do travel? Absolutely.

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12 Responses to Travel carbon monoxide detector – Do we need one?

  1. @mrsoaroundworld February 5, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    God, I never thought about this one – and I will keep eyes open, promise

  2. Lola DiMarco February 5, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    definitely have not thought about carbon monoxide detectors in hotels! Something to think about next time! I wouldn’t have thought it would not be a law!

  3. Lance | Trips By Lance February 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    This makes me think I need to make sure the one in my house operates properly. Usually when we look for lodging we’re more concerned about how clean it is, location, price, etc. We don’t think as much about the safety concerns.

  4. Mary Anne February 5, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    UMMMM now I HAVE to check in every room I stay in. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) February 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    wow, hopefully it doesn’t require a law before hotels start putting in such detectors, apparently they are needed… I know in NY we have to have one in our home (apartment), that is the law, but hotels – not sure. I’ll be sure to ask at my next check in.
    stay adventurous, Craig

  6. Traveling Ted February 7, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    Wow, what a senseless death especially after someone else had recently perished. How were they able to stay open after the first fatalities? Scary.

  7. Leah February 10, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    OK, great. Now you’ve given me something else to be paranoid about besides my toothbrush going in the toilet by a disgruntled maid.

  8. D.J. - The World of Deej February 10, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    You know, as much time as I spend in hotels (and even more when I used to work in them) this is one that I’ve never thought about. Great stuff!

  9. the lazy travelers February 13, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    errmm… here’s where i admit… our cottage in france doesn’t seem to have a fire detector OR a carbon monoxide detector. and i hadn’t noticed until just now :\

  10. karl February 13, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Good article. Something for people to think about, in a hotel or at home, important in wintertime

  11. Erin at The World Wanderer February 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    This is terrifying. It’s scary what can happen in the places we rest our heads while traveling. I remember reading several stories about people dying in SE Asia because they were allergic to the sprays the hotels were using to prevent bed bugs. I guess it’s better to check ahead and to be safe rather than sorry.

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