While we consider ourselves to be fairly seasoned travelers and informed citizens of this experience called life, never once did we think that packing a carbon monoxide detector would be an essential and life-saving item in our travel preparedness until tragedy struck and my retired firefighter husband was poisoned by carbon monoxide at a “boutique hotel” in Lake Chapala, Mexico.
After dropping our children off at their much-anticipated 6th grade camp in a rural community outside of Guadalajara, my husband and I set out to enjoy our weekend together, knowing that our twins would be in the good hands and company of their camp counselors and classmates and that we would get to enjoy some adult couple time.
Never would we have imagined that instead of spending our weekend together sightseeing and relaxing on this parents-only weekend that we would spend it fighting for Frank’s life.
How could such a thing happen?
Do mistakes and bad things happen? Absolutely.
So does gross negligence.
After several hours of working on his computer next to an open window (where just on the other side of it was a malfunctioning hot water heater), my husband Frank, upon standing up, was overcome by severe visual disturbances, full-body weakness, confusion, headache, difficulty speaking, extreme nausea and a ghost-like white color to his skin.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Confirmation by the hotel itself that in fact two carbon monoxide leaks had been found in the hot water heater outside our bedroom window, together with all of Frank’s symptoms, diagnostics and treatment, verified that carbon monoxide poisoning was the culprit—something that the simple, easy and affordable installation of a CO detector would have easily prevented, along with proper checks and maintenance of the hot water heater by the hotel management and owners themselves.
Shameful, careless and deadly, to say the least.
To recount what those time-standing-still minutes and moments were like, waiting for the Red Cross to arrive and load my nearly lifeless husband up onto the gurney, is an experience that words escape and that I hope and pray will one day stop haunting me.
Only removal from the carbon monoxide source and immediate medical intervention with continuous high-saturation oxygen therapy would save Frank’s life. Friends from Vallarta showed up at the ER to help us in any way they could and I will forever ever remember and be grateful for their loving kindness in one of the darkest times of our lives.
As a result of this terrifying, near-death experience, we now ALWAYS travel with carbon monoxide detectors. We also have them in each of the bedrooms of our home and next to any gas appliances–i.e. the stove and the clothes dryer. Our hot water heater is outside the house but it is highly advisable to have a CO monitor next to your hot water heater no matter where it is located.
Please, protect yourself and your loved ones with CO alarms for both home and travel safety. It is such a simple and affordable protective measure to ensure the safety and protection of your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
If one is suddenly overcome with nausea, headache, vision disturbances, confusion and other mind-boggling symptoms, consider a CO exposure and get OUT of the room/building ASAP (and to a medical facility) until authorities can perform necessary tests, repairs and assure that the area is safe to return to.
Don’t rely on the hotel, vacation rental, airbnb to have done the proper and required maintenance checks. Bring your own CO monitors for your and your loved one’s safety and peace of mind.
*Carbon monoxide is silent, odorless and tasteless*
I hope this information saves just one life. Please share it with your loved ones.
Get your CO monitors today. Please make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery replacement and equipment checks.
With gratitude for this one precious life,
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