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Dangers Of Carbon Monoxide (CO) on a Boat

Inhaling carbon monoxide can be lethal, blocking the oxygen your body needs, with prolonged or very quick exposure to high concentrations causing severe illness or death. The symptoms of CO poisoning include irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness. These symptoms are often confused with seasickness or too much drink and often people who experience it don’t receive medical attention.

The main causes of carbon monoxide building up in a boat include, poor ventilation, exhaust gas from engines, heater outlets, inadequately ventilated or fitted gas powered equipment such as fridges or heaters, or the so called ‘station wagon effect’ where at slow speeds, the exhaust gas is back drafted over the boat.

Install a carbon monoxide alarm, preferably a marine one, as they will last longer, but in any case a carbon monoxide alarm that conforms to the AU, BS, or EU standards.

How to protect you and your crew

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm, test it regularly and ensure it always contains working batteries
  • Make sure your crew know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Keep your boat well ventilated Keep your boat well maintained, not just the engine, but water pumps and cooling systems on “wet exhausts”
  • Have a gas safe engineer / or licensed gas fitter examine your gas systems and service them
  • Do not user cookers to heat your vessel
  • Be aware of other boats beside you, especially if they are running generators or heating systems as fumes can enter through innocent places such as sink outlets
  • Make sure you do not block any ventilation points
  • Be aware that if you can smell exhaust fumes you are being exposed to carbon monoxide
  • If you experience the symptoms listed above, get out on deck into fresh air and seek medical attention.

Put preventative measures in place in order to avoid or reduce the risk of significant safety hazards aboard your vessel. Investing in Ocean Time Marine’s Safety Management System template today!

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