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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A deadly gas produced when carbon-based fuels are burned causes carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide boat

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas. It enters the bloodstream through the lungs and displaces the oxygen.

Exposure can cause: 

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Mental confusion
  • Unconsciousness

The symptoms can be mistaken for seasickness or the flu. If someone displays these symptoms, place them in fresh air immediately.

Carbon monoxide

Sources on your boat could include the engine, generators, cooking equipment, and heating appliances.

The most common ways of exposure include :

  • Teak surfing or platform dragging.
  • Exhaust from other boats docked or anchored.
  • Repairing the boat's engine (working near the engine compartment or engine while it is running).
  • Slow or idle speeds while traveling downwind, which allows exhaust to accumulate in cabins, cockpits, or other enclosed areas.

A new and dangerous boating fad involves an individual holding on to the swim platform of a boat while a wake builds up, then letting go to surf the wave created by the boat. Termed "Teak Surfing", this practice is a sure way to induce CO poisoning. NEVER swim near the stern of your boat with the engine(s) running.

Teak surfing

To protect yourself, maintain and inspect the boat's engine and exhaust system. Keep forward hatches open to provide air flow. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Be aware of other boats near you that may be running a generator or idling for long periods while docked. Their carbon monoxide can get into your boat too.