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Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

While we consider ourselves to be fairly seasoned and informed travelers, never once did we think that packing a carbon monoxide detector was an essential and life-saving item until tragedy struck and my husband was severely poisoned by carbon monoxide at a hotel in Lake Chapala, Mexico in 2017.

After dropping our children off at their much-anticipated 6th grade camp outside of Guadalajara, Frank 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 time together.

But instead of spending our weekend sightseeing and relaxing, we spent it fighting for Frank’s life at both an ER and a Hyperbaric Chamber Facility in downtown Guadalajara. 

Confirmation of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

After working at his computer for several hours next to an open window in our hotel room, Frank 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~The Silent Killer

Confirmation by the hotel itself that two carbon monoxide leaks had been found in the hot water heater just outside our bedroom window, together with all of Frank’s symptoms, hospital diagnostics and treatment, verified that carbon monoxide poisoning was in fact the culprit.

Do mistakes and bad things happen? Absolutely.

So does gross negligence.

A simple and affordable installation of a CO detector would have easily prevented this tragedy, not to mention the proper checks and maintenance of the hot water heater by the hotel management and owners themselves–who, as an important aside–both buried their heads in the sand, denying and deflecting any negligence and responsibility. The owner went so far as to state on social media that it was “something else” that nearly killed my husband. 

Shameful, careless, and deadly, to say the least. 

Only removal from the carbon monoxide itself, oxygen therapy in the ER, and back-to-back hyperbaric chamber treatments in a private clinic (that we had to wait until the next day to get into) would save Frank’s life. Friends of ours from Puerto Vallarta showed up at the ER to help us in any way they could and I will forever ever be grateful for their loving kindness in one of the scariest and darkest times of our lives.

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

As a result of this terrifying experience, where my husband’s life was spared (not all are), we now ALWAYS travel with carbon monoxide detectors in addition to outfitting our home with them. We have CO alarms in each of our bedrooms and next to any gas-fueled appliances–i.e. the stove, clothes dryer and hot water heater.

Even if your hot water heater is outside the house, it is highly advisable to have a CO monitor in close proximity to where it is located, as well as check it periodically for proper functioning. 

Please protect yourself and your loved ones with CO alarms for both home and travel safety. Carbon monoxide is odorless, and cannot be seen or heard. The first sign of poisoning is severe illness, or worse, death. 

Symptoms of 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 or even a loved one’s home where you might be visiting to have done the proper and required maintenance checks of all gas-fueled appliances. It is important to also consider possible exposures by neighboring structures. Simply bring your own CO monitors for your and your loved one’s safety and peace of mind.

*Carbon monoxide is silent, odorless and tasteless*

Carbon Monoxide~The Silent Killer

I hope this information saves just one life. Please share it with your friends, family, workplace and community. 

Get your CO monitors today and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery replacement and equipment checks.

With gratitude for this one precious life,

~Katie O’Grady







About the author: Together with my Retired Firefighter Husband and our now 19-year-old twins who were just 8 when we immigrated to Mexico in 2012, we have created a joyful life of design and freedom South of The Border. Welcome to Los O’Gradys in Mexico! Saludos, Katie 🇲🇽 ☘️

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Sherri Chessen September 2, 2018, 12:42 pm

    So important that you are going public with this near-miss for Frank and helping others…I applaud you, Katie.

    Carbon Monoxide poisoning…so easily detected with the right equipment and such a silent killer otherwise.

    So happy that you are all well and that you’re choosing to help others not experience the trauma your family went through.

    Love you all,

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