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Published on Jul 6, 2016
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division warns boaters that exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) can harm or cause death to people both inside and outside of a boat. They state, “Every boater should be aware of the risks associated with carbon monoxide - what it is; where it may accumulate; and the symptoms of CO poisoning. To protect yourself, your passengers and those around you, learn all you can about CO.”
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. All people and animals can be at risk for CO poisoning, but certain groups, such as unborn babies, infants and people with chronic heart disease, anemia or respiratory problems are often more susceptible to its effects.
Symptoms of CO poisoning can be similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication. They may include: • Headache • Confusion • Fatigue • Seizures • Dizziness or loss of consciousness • Nausea
Carbon monoxide can accumulate almost anywhere in or around a boat when fuels such as gasoline, diesel, propane, charcoal or other carbon-based fuels burn. Exposure to CO can affect people while the boat is moored, anchored or underway. There have been numerous cases of boating-related poisoning and deaths associated with exposure to carbon monoxide. It is also suspected that a number of drowning cases are also likely due to CO.
Fortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. In addition to properly maintaining a boat, boat owners and operators can install and maintain marine grade approved CO detectors. They, and their guests, should also be knowledgeable about the risks and signs of CO poisoning. There are also professionals who can assess carbon monoxide exposure risks and field instrumentation to measure CO levels in the air.
These are just a few things to know about boats and carbon monoxide hazards. To learn more about this or other air quality, health and safety, occupational, environmental or property issues, please visit the websites shown below.