Kris Hauschildt asks the same question today that she asked herself nine years ago when her parents died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a North Carolina hotel: Why were there no law to protect loved ones from a deadly gas leak in a commercial building?
Since the tragedy, Hauschildt of Longview has dedicated his life to ensuring that others do not unknowingly enter a public building without being able to detect a carbon monoxide leak.
In the fall, Hauschildt helped update the International Fire Code to include requirements for carbon monoxide detectors in new and existing public buildings with equipment that uses the colorless, odorless gas – where Hauschildt has said the detectors should have been needed all along.
“We miss our realization that they’re not there,” she said. “You think the system is watching over us. I mean we’re talking about death.
Changes to the 2024 International Fire Code require detectors in new and existing buildings like hotels, motels and apartment buildings with amenities like fireplaces or gas stoves that can leak carbon monoxide. carbon, said Longview Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway.
Hauschildt wrote a draft of the code herself, then worked with industry experts to create the final version.
The changes Hauschildt seeks will have to be passed by each state’s legislature, which could take years, Dunaway added.
Each state has individualized statutes based on the International Fire Code – a set of minimum requirements that are updated every three years to protect people from hazards such as fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
As of 2018, 14 states require carbon monoxide detectors in hotels and motels, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Five states require them in schools.
Dunaway said he can’t remember a time when Washington state didn’t adopt updated international fire codes and called the changes a clear need.
“If the danger exists, there should be a way to protect people from that danger,” Dunaway said.
In search of solutions
Hauschildt formed a 501(C)(3) called the Jenkins Foundation in honor of his parents with a mission to prevent further deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Daryl Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Jenkins, 72, of Longview were visiting relatives in Boone, North Carolina, in the spring of 2013 when they were found unresponsive at an independent Best Western hotel, Hauschildt said.
An investigation into the Jenkins’ cause of death was slow, she added, and about seven weeks later an 11-year-old child died in the same hotel room and his mother suffered a brain injury. permed.
Investigators found a corroded pool heater underneath the room was leaking carbon monoxide and no detectors were installed, reports the Seattle Times.
The findings were another blow to Hauschildt: the deaths could have been avoided if they had known about the lack of regulation, she said. Her mother had worked at a natural gas company for 30 years and knew how to protect herself at home with a detector, Hauschildt added. Now Hauschildt said she was wearing a portable alarm.
“If you want to be safe, make sure you have an alarm with you,” she said.
Hauschildt said she worked full-time at her foundation to ensure her loss wouldn’t happen again. Earlier this month, a grant from the Jenkins Foundation provided 50 carbon monoxide detectors to Cowlitz County Fire Departments to broadcast to the public. Dunaway said Longview’s share of 30 detectors was distributed within two hours.
For Dunaway, the demand means more people need protection and education about the deadly gas. Hauschildt said she also believes people don’t understand how quickly carbon monoxide can kill.
The Daily News reported in 2018 that Hauschildt had settled with the North Carolina hotel owner for $4.5 million, but Hauschildt said solutions to the faulty system would be more valuable.
“It’s very difficult to walk away from this problem and not try to solve it,” she said. “It’s not a fair system for one family. We want to hear “hey, we fixed it and it won’t happen to the next person”.