Greensboro, N.C. -- It's colorless. Odorless. Tasteless. And, if you breathe in too much of it, it can kill you. We're talking about carbon monoxide (CO).
This weekend, carbon monoxide poisoning likely killed an 11-year-old boy inside a Boone hotel. Months earlier, an elderly couple died in the same room. Investigators think CO gas is to blame.
Over the past three years, at least eight other people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels. A USA Today investigation found 170 others got sick.
Carbon monoxide detectors are not required in North Carolina hotels.
So, should you bring a carbon monoxide detector with you when you go on vacation?
Greensboro Firefighter Jim Johnston said, "It's not going to hurt. But, keep in mind, the meters are designed to stay in your house. So, if you're toting them around the country, from place to place, it might make them less effective. If you are going to travel around with them, treat them with care."
Johnston recommends purchasing a separate "travel" CO detector if you have concerns. Don't unplug your home detector.
Firefighters carry around detectors to check for the gas. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning look and feel like food poisoning. Therefore, if everyone in your family starts feeling nauseous, gets a headache or starts vomiting, get out of the house or hotel room and call 911.
To protect your family, have your furnace inspected every year. Gentry Air Head Technician Patrick Faucette said he finds a lot of carbon monoxide problems in Triad area homes.
"We're actually required by law that if we detect any cracks in a heat exchanger, we are required to shutdown the gas and that appliance can no longer be used," Faucette said.
Don't forget to change your furnace filters, either. When they get clogged, it makes it easy for carbon monoxide to get into your home.
Carbon Monoxide Links provided by NC State Fire Marshal's Office:
NCGS 42-42 addresses a requirement that landlords provide and install a minimum of one carbon alarm per rental unit per level: http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_42/GS_42-42.html
The North Carolina Residential Building Code addresses a requirement for CO alarms in residences having a fossil-fuel burning heater, appliance or fireplace, or in any dwelling having an attached garage in Section R315 Carbon Monoxide Alarms:
The above code requirements are also authorized through NCGS 143-138.
NFPA Fire Safety Tips
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms