Teachers and business owner who died of carbon monoxide poisoning at Mexico City Airbnb brought light to those around them, families say
This story is part of a series examining how the Internet is being transformed to improve public health and inform the public about threats to their well-being.
In late 2015, an elderly woman named Dolores Martinez asked to rent her first apartment in a house in the western Mexico city of Guadalajara. After the four weeks were up, though, she never heard from her new landlord. Three days later, she received a letter and an envelope from the home of her brother. He had died of carbon monoxide poisoning inside the home while trying to repair a ceiling leak.
His death brought to light the dangers of carbon monoxide, an invisible, deadly gas that often lurks in enclosed spaces — especially those that are poorly maintained or not regularly heated or cooled. But that wasn’t Martinez’s only concern after her brother’s death. She was worried about the people around her. Would they be safe inside their own home with the leaky ceiling? Could she even tell them in their own home? These were questions she didn’t want to think about.
Instead, she hoped her brother’s death would lead the world to know that the risks associated with poorly-ventilated homes didn’t just affect the elderly and people with illnesses. It could happen to anyone, anywhere. This particular apartment shared walls with many others in its complex. It could be anyone home.
It was late October 2015, and Martinez’s world had been turned upside down. She’d been forced to confront the question she’d been trying to suppress for the past three years.
When she got the call from her brother’s sister the following day, she didn’t want to make a fuss. She had a lot of other things to attend to. Her landlord was going to do the repairs, and then they’d have to find her a new place to live when the landlord realized that she’d moved in. The call also came at the same time that the city of Guadalajara was opening up a new program to alert families to