GREENSBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Insurance estimates over 400 people are killed and 21,000 sent to emergency rooms due to unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings every year.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless chemical, which makes it hard to tell if there's a leak.
According to the AP, Asheville Police say carbon monoxide poisoning may be the cause of two deaths at a North Carolina hotel. Investigators say, Jacob Galloway, 28, and James Landreth, 39, were found dead in a room on June 9, at the Best Western hotel in Asheville while in town for a rugby tournament.
A search warrant says Asheville Fire Chief Shane Mackey determined a utility room at the hotel was directly behind and below the men's room, and said an exhaust pipe wasn't vented to the outside. Mackey said carbon monoxide could have seeped from the utility closet to their room.
The Office of the State Medical Examiner has performed autopsies on the men, but police say toxicology reports could take up to eight months to complete.
This may sound all too familiar. In 2013, three people died in a Best Western hotel in Boone due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Shortly after, it became a North Carolina law to have carbon monoxide detectors in hotel rooms, but this law has loopholes. Inspectors can't go into occupied rooms to check them and the law doesn't require specific rooms to be checked.
Greensboro Fire Marshall, Timothy Henshaw, says inspectors are unable to inspect occupied hotel or motel rooms, but require the facility to bring back a report starting that detectors are compliant and fully functional.
The state also doesn't require one in each and every room, only in strategic places adjacent to utilities like water and air heaters. So what do you do?
You are allowed to ask facility employees to show you where they are to know you're safe.
"If you are concerned, ask the front desk where are they located," Henshaw said.
"As a renter of a hotel room, you can always ask to see their inspection records for their fire alarms and their sprinklers. They're required to show them to you and at that point, if they won't, maybe it's time to move to another hotel or motel."
Marshall Henshaw also says, for the overly cautious, there are some portable carbon monoxide detectors and meters that could keep you safe.
"I personally travel with both of them and put them out at the door, um, when I travel, but that's just me because this is what I do," he explained.
For homeowners and renters, the Greensboro Fire Marshall recommends setting up a schedule one a month or once every other month with your loved ones or roommates to test your carbon monoxide detector, that way everyone knows what sound to expect in case of a leak.
Recent advancements in detectors now allow for them to have a 10-year battery life. But that doesn't mean you don't need to check them or that they only need to be checked every 10 years.