Boating Atlantic 2020

Carbon Monoxide


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas you cannot see, smell or taste. CO comes in through your lungs and cuts off the oxygen supply to your body, causing death in minutes. Be alert! Symptoms include headaches, nausea and fatigue – but you might think you are just seasick or have the flu.

CO can come from anything that burns a carbon-based fuel (gasoline, propane, charcoal, oil, etc.) such as engines, gas generators, cooking ranges, heaters, etc. CO acts a lot like air. It does not rise or fall, but

spreads evenly throughout an enclosed space.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself and others from CO poisoning:

• Idle your engine only in well-ventilated areas. A tail wind can easily carry CO back on board.

• Heat the cabin in a well-ventilated area.

• Cook in a well-ventilated area.

• Make sure that cabin extensions and areas fitted with canvas tops are well ventilated.

• Use only fuel-burning engines or appliances that are certified or designed for marine use and make sure to use them in well-ventilated areas only.

• Use a marine-grade CO detector and check its batteries before every trip.

• Be aware that CO can build up when:

. two vessels are tied to each other;

. you are docked alongside a seawall;

. exhaust gases enter the space between pontoons;

. your load causes the bow to ride high; or, a fuel-burning appliance or engine is running while your vessel is not moving.

REMEMBER: Carbon monoxide (CO) is not just a risk to boaters. Swimmers too can be overcome by breathing CO and drown in just minutes! Areas of high risk are under swim platforms and between the pontoons of houseboats and pontoon boats.