May 2013

Dangerous gas

How to avoid CO poisoning

Dangerous gas

The combustion and burning of gasoline and diesel fuel produces poisonous carbon monoxide gas. Because the gas is odorless and colorless, it’s difficult to tell when you are being exposed.

Boats and other watercraft without emission control equipment exhaust a great deal of carbon monoxide, which interferes with your body's ability to use oxygen. Anyone who spends any time near the rear end of a boat can be exposed to too much carbon monoxide.

Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can cause headaches, dizziness and loss of concentration. High levels of carbon monoxide ingestion can cause loss of consciousness or death. Unless suspected, carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms resemble those of other illnesses.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include

  • headache,
  • vomiting,
  • dizziness,
  • chest pain,
  • weakness,
  • confusion and
  • nausea.

You can take a few simple precautions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Stay away from boat exhaust.
  • Keep your boat motor off at all times while you are docked.
  • Never allow your boat motor to idle to run appliances like radios.
  • Avoid crowded areas where lots of boats congregate if some of the boats are idling.

Boat exhaust can also flow back into the rear of the boat. The amount of carbon monoxide can reach life-threatening concentrations on and near swim decks.

If you think someone on your watercraft has carbon monoxide poisoning, move him or her to fresh air quickly and contact your nearest emergency services personnel.




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