Tips to Protect From CO Posioning

Published in February 2019

Boaters: Take Note of These Tips to Protect You and Others From CO Posioning

The dangers of carbon monoxide from houseboats had been vastly underestimated by many boaters until they were brought to the forefront by the Dixey family tragedy.

The U.S. Coast Guard now publishes very informative articles on its website to increase awareness and keep boaters safe.

One of the articles notes that carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around your board, including:

  1. Inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures.
  2. Exhaust gas that is trapped in enclosed places.
  3. Blocked exhaust outlets.
  4. Another vessel’s exhaust. CO from the boat docked next to you can be just as deadly.
  5. “Station wagon effect” or back drafting.
  6. At slow speeds, while idling, or stopped. Be aware that CO can remain in or around your boat at dangerous levels even if your engine or a nearby boat’s engine is no longer running.

To keep carbon monoxide from poisoning you or your passengers, the Coast Guard recommends that you:

  1. Maintain fresh air circulation throughout the boat at all times. Run exhaust blowers whenever the generator is operating.
  2. Know where your engine and generator exhaust outlets are located and keep everyone away from these areas.
  3. Never sit, teak surf, or hang on the back deck or swim platform while the engines are running. Teak surfing is NEVER a safe activity.
  4. Never enter areas under swim platforms where exhaust outlets are located unless the area has been properly ventilated.
  5. Take immediate action to dissipate any suspected fumes. Although CO can be present without the smell of exhaust fumes, if you smell exhaust fumes, CO is also present.
  6. Treat symptoms of seasickness as possible CO poisoning. Get the person into fresh air immediately. Seek medical attention-unless you’re sure it’s not CO.
  7. Install and maintain CO alarms inside your boat. Do not ignore any alarm. Replace alarms as recommended by the alarm manufacturer.
  8. Get a Vessel Safety Check. A VSC is a free bow-to-stern safety examination.