Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on Vessels
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause serious injury or even death to a person who is unknowingly exposed. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur on boats when emissions from gas-powered engines and generators build up in boat cabins, on decks, and above the water’s surface in the rear of the boat. Inhalation of the gas can cause victims to become unconscious and lead to death.
How Does Carbon Monoxide Build Up in a Boat?
Many boating enthusiasts never consider the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning because they assume being out on the open water and exposed to fresh air will prevent poisoning. This misconception can lead to grave consequences.
Carbon monoxide gas can build up to dangerous levels in several ways, including:
- Generators vent exhaust to the rear end of the boat and endanger those on the stern.
- Large boats can emit carbon monoxide above the water’s surface that then builds up under the deck on the stern of the boat.
- Trolling, or driving at low speeds or drifting in the water can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate in the cabin, cockpit, bridge, or aft deck, and in open areas as well.
- Heavy loaded boats or those with unbalanced loads can cause a high bow angle where carbon monoxide can build up in the cabin, cockpit, and on the bridge.
- Openings on boats that allow exhaust fumes to accumulate can cause toxic levels of carbon monoxide gas.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning causes many symptoms that can be subtle and mimic other health issues. Recognizing the signs of CO poisoning can save a life.
- Chest pain
- Unusual tiredness
When carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms occur, seconds matter when saving a life. Move the victim to an open air area away from any motor or generator. Turn off the boat motor or generator and turn on fans to blow the noxious fumes in the opposite direction of the victim. Check for breathing and a pulse and administer CPR when necessary.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, but it can be prevented by taking a few precautionary measures.
- Ensure all vessels have a working carbon monoxide detector on board
- Perform frequent inspections and repairs on boat motors and generators
- Fill in cracks and small openings that can allow fumes to gather
- Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure all boaters know how to administer lifesaving treatment
- Direct all activity such as swimming and fishing away from engine emissions
- Monitor small children and pets for signs of CO poisoning
- Keep exhaust outlets free from clutter that can block proper air flow
- Remain at least 20 feet away from other vessels that have their engine or generator operating
Remember that seconds count when symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning occur. Death can occur within minutes once symptoms are noticeable.
Cape May Maritime Injury Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Counsel and Represent Victims of Boating Accidents
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a boating accident, call the experienced Cape May maritime injury lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. at 888-999-1962 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our Philadelphia, New Jersey, and North Carolina offices serve clients along the east coast, including those in the South Jersey areas of Cape May, Gloucester, and Wildwood.