When Carbon Monoxide Leaks Kill

Earlier this year, a carbon monoxide leak in Oak Brook, Illinois killed an elderly woman and seriously injured six others. Earlier this week, a similar carbon monoxide leak at a Washington D.C.-area hotel sent nine people to the hospital. Carbon monoxide poisoning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm take a closer look into these incidents and how leaks like these can be avoided.

According to federal estimates, about 500 people die and another 15,000 are hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. Currently, 25 states have laws that require carbon monoxide detectors in residential buildings. Texas requires carbon monoxide alarms in day-care centers, and Connecticut and Maryland require them in all schools.

Illinois requires every “dwelling unit” to have at least one working carbon monoxide alarm within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping. In the Oak Brook incident, the family was living in a large residential home when the leak occurred. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, so leaks often go undetected until it’s too late.

In this instance, one of the women living in the home was having trouble breathing and had paramedics come around 9:45 a.m. Upon arrival, emergency responders measured extremely high levels of carbon monoxide (1,000 parts per million). Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can begin to manifest even with levels as low as 200 parts per million.

Eight other people were residing in the home at the time, between the ages of 20 and 84. Unfortunately, the 84-year-old man was found unresponsive in one of the bathrooms. Of all other residents, only six were sent to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Investigators believe the leak came from the indoor pool’s heating system, and no foul play is suspected.

Airport Hotel Evacuated, Dozens Injured

The more recent leak occurred at a Westin Hotel near BWI Marshall International Airport, which serves the Washington D.C. area. Paramedics were called to the Westin around 1:30 p.m. because an employee was feeling faint. First responders tested the hotel and found significant carbon monoxide presence. In many parts of the hotel the levels of toxic gas were high enough to cause serious, life-threatening injury.

Investigators determined that the source of the leak was a damaged flue assembly on water heather in near the laundry room. Seven floors in the Westin had to be evacuated and about 20 people were medically examined for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Four employees were taken to a nearby Shock Trauma Center, and five more patients were taken to other nearby hospitals, all in stable condition.

Carbon monoxide is present in any household appliance that burns propane, wood, gasoline, coal, or charcoal. So if a water heater or any other heating appliance breaks or ruptures in any way, there is a significant chance carbon monoxide will infiltrate the home. As stated, the toxic gas is undetectable by humans, which is why it is so often referred to as the silent killer.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide gas poisoning include dizziness, trouble breathing, fatigue, headache, and nausea. If you or anyone you live with suddenly experience these symptoms with no known cause, it is critical that you immediately exit the house and get into fresh air.

Our team of toxic exposure attorneys is currently investigating cases of carbon monoxide poisoning throughout the country. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a common occurrence in hotels and apartment complexes and is usually caused by poor heating maintenance or defective parts. If you or someone you love was seriously injured or killed by carbon monoxide or any other kind of toxic gas exposure, such as vinyl chloride or lead, contact our firm immediately.

We have been working with these types of toxic substance exposure cases for nearly three decades. Our legal advice is always free and confidential and available to injured victims nationwide.

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