Craig reintroduces legislation after constituents suffer near-fatal carbon monoxide poisoning

By: Sun Thisweek – 8/9/21

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, D-Eagan, reintroduced last week the Safe Stay Act, which would require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in each hotel and motel room across the country. This legislation, which was originally introduced in the 116th Congress, was motivated by the story of Lakeville resident Leslie Lienemann, who was hospitalized with a serious illness following a near-fatal carbon monoxide poisoning incident in a Michigan hotel room.

In July 2019, Lienemann and her son, Jeff, traveled to Michigan for NAHL hockey tryouts. Over the course of their three-night stay, Leslie and Jeff experienced worsening symptoms including severe headaches, vomiting and numbness. The Lienemanns sought medical attention at a nearby emergency room after the third day – at which point they were diagnosed with acute carbon monoxide poisoning and received several hours of oxygen treatments. From January 2005 to December 2018, at least 905 hotel guests were poisoned in 115 incidents, resulting in 22 fatalities nationwide.

“Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the silent killer – a deadly and undetectable gas that poses a serious threat to its unsuspecting victims. Unless we take steps to prevent it, poisonings like the one that affected the Lienemanns – as well as hundreds of other Americans in recent years – could happen to any one of us,” Craig said in a press release. “No one in this country should ever lose a loved one from such an easily preventable tragedy. Today, I am proud to reintroduce this lifesaving legislation in honor of Leslie and Jeff – and I will continue fighting for its passage in the House of Representatives.”

The Safe Stay Act would require the installation of compliant carbon monoxide alarms and detectors in every hotel and motel room nationwide, similar to requirements for smoke detectors and sprinklers. If enacted, the legislation would represent the first significant update to existing law dealing with fire safety rules in hotels and motels in three decades. To ensure compliance with the Safe Stay Act, hotels and motels would have to provide guests at check-in a written notice attesting that they are in compliance with the requirements of the Safe Stay Act. Failure to do so would be considered an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the Federal Trade Commission Act, which helps protect consumers from substantial unavoidable injury.

“The Safe Stay Act will prevent death or injury from carbon monoxide. Families are eager to return to travel after the pandemic, and they assume they are safe because they do not know that they are not protected from carbon monoxide poisoning when they stay in a hotel. Had we not left the hotel room when we did, my son and I would likely be dead. For three days, I watched my child being poisoned, not understanding what was making him sick — for lack of a simple carbon monoxide detector that can be purchased at any hardware store for about $30,” said Leslie Lienemann. “Since we suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in 2019, I have found information indicating there have been at least 41 additional cases of carbon monoxide poisoning injuries, including two deaths, in hotels in the United States, even during the pandemic when few people traveled. Hotels and local fire officials are not required to report carbon monoxide incidents or injuries, so this danger is hidden from the public. I don’t want any family to lose a loved one to carbon monoxide, and I don’t want any other parent to watch their child being poisoned and not recognize the invisible killer lurking in the room.”

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