What is the Best Way to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning While Boating?
Carbon monoxide (CO), a colourless and odourless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it, is produced by gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators. Idling your engine for even a short period of time can endanger you and your passengers. The danger can linger even after you turn off your engine.
Carbon monoxide poisoning and death can result from exposure to exhaust fumes. There are some ways recommended by experts that can help in preventing carbon monoxide positioning while boating:
- Close all living compartments to prevent the gas from entering them. Install and maintain all fuel-burning engines and appliances correctly.
- Educate all passengers on the symptoms and signs of CO poisoning.
- Swim and play in areas away from engine exhaust vents.
- When children are playing on rear swim decks or water platforms, keep a close eye on them.
Marine carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. While boating, boaters must be aware of its hazards and ensure that the vessel is adequately ventilated. Boats often have equipment that creates this gas. Even a tiny amount of this poisonous gas can be fatal when breathed in for an extended period. Although the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may be similar to seasickness, the condition can be fatal if exposed to the gas for long periods.
When on board a boat, installing marine carbon monoxide detectors is essential to protect yourself from the deadly gas. The devices will alert boaters to high levels of carbon monoxide, allowing them to seek medical attention before they become too severe. Boaters should also read the brochure provided by the manufacturer to educate themselves and others about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Even one breath of this poisonous gas can be deadly.
The main benefit of using a marine carbon monoxide detector is that they are relatively inexpensive and designed specifically for boats. A typical marine carbon monoxide detector costs less than $100, and its priceless benefits are well worth it. In addition to the detectors, marine carbon monoxide detectors also contain a brochure with boating and engine maintenance checklists. For those who are new to boating, this brochure is vital.
Blockage of exhaust outlets
If you’re prone to CO poisoning, you’re in for a real treat – a marine carbon monoxide detector. Underwriters’ Laboratories guarantee the performance of a marine carbon monoxide detector. This device can alert you to dangerous levels of CO in your boat’s cabin or cockpit. Keeping your boat’s exhaust vents open while anchored or resting is an intelligent way to protect yourself.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur from blocked exhaust outlets on your boat. Carbon monoxide can enter your boat through an exhaust outlet and accumulate in the cockpit or cabin. To avoid this, you should never anchor your boat in a place that could block the exhaust outlets. You can also prevent back-drafting – or the “station wagon effect” – by avoiding areas where the exhaust comes from another boat. The back of your boat has the highest risk of CO accumulation. This is why you should avoid water skiing within 20 feet of a moving watercraft.
Before you leave the dock, be sure to check your boat’s exhaust outlets for obstructions. If you notice any, contact your captain or marina for medical attention. In addition to blocking exhaust outlets, you should stay off the back deck during engine operations. Also, turn off hand-held showers on the swim platforms, especially if you’re running the engine. Also, make sure there are no air pockets under the swim platforms that can trap CO.
Using a detector
Marine carbon monoxide detectors are similar to smoke alarms in a home, but they detect moderate levels of the deadly gas. When activated, these alarms make a piercing siren noise to alert occupants of the boat. In addition, the detector can alert you to the danger by opening cabin windows or foredeck hatches. Carbon monoxide can collect under a canopy on a boat, so the best way to prevent it is by using a carbon monoxide detector on board.
Boating deaths have steadily increased since 2001, and over 75% of those fatalities were labeled drownings. Eighty-four percent of victims were not wearing lifejackets. Only five of these deaths were directly attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning. These statistics do not include fatalities caused by natural causes, such as a collision with a boat or an engine. Moreover, they do not include deaths caused by alcohol or other drug use. Regardless of the cause, boaters should use a carbon monoxide detector.
Although it’s essential to check the exhaust system of power boats to ensure that they are adequately vented, a carbon monoxide detector can also help prevent death if you are unaware of the source of the leak. Gasoline-powered boats and portable propane camping stoves also release carbon monoxide, which can poison you if you are not careful. Boat carbon monoxide poisoning kills seven people each year in the USA. Even a young boy who had a lifetime of boating experience has died due to CO poisoning.
Using a mask
Carbon monoxide poisoning while boating is a serious issue that many people don’t think about but is much more common than you might think. Over 800 cases of CO poisoning have been reported in 35 states. A boat that is not adequately ventilated can quickly build up dangerous concentrations of CO, making it vital to wear a mask when operating a boat.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a severe and potentially fatal problem. When you inhale carbon monoxide, it binds to your hemoglobin and creates carboxyhemoglobin, a type of hematology term. The lack of oxygen causes cells and tissues to fail; the worst scenario is death. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are similar to food poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur during any activity on a boat, but it is more common on larger boats. In addition to slow boating speeds, tailwinds and back-drafting can increase CO levels. Boaters should always wear a mask while onboard and use it while using the generators. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms may be similar to seasickness, and it is often difficult to determine whether or not you have been poisoned.
Wearing a mask
Even though it is relatively easy to avoid, carbon monoxide can quickly build up in open areas such as the cockpit, bridge, or cabin of a boat. The leading cause of this is back-drafting, or the “station wagon effect,” which is a common hazard for boats operating at low speeds and with a high bow angle. Carbon monoxide emissions can quickly accumulate if the boat is fully loaded with watercraft and passengers. Additionally, people who go water skiing 20 feet behind a boat also breathe in the CO exhaust.
Although most mask materials do not contain carbon dioxide, the gas is too small for the human body to control. Therefore, a mask may be required. A surgical mask, a homemade face covering, or an N95-filtered mask are reasonable options. Whether you use these items is mainly up to you, but it is still essential to wear a mask when out on the water.
Even if you do not live on the water, wearing a mask is recommended. Inhaling the CO fumes from a boat is dangerous for the boater and could also be fatal. So, wearing a mask is your best bet to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. But it would help if you also considered the safety of those who live on board your boat, such as boatyard workers.