The Silent Killer - Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide (CO), is a gas released during the combustion of carbon fuels such as Gasoline and Diesel. It has no smell, no color, and no taste, rendering it completely undetectable to humans.
Onboard a boat, carbon monoxide can come from the following sources: Gasoline/Diesel Engine, Propane Stove, Kerosene Lamps, and many other combustible sources.
If the gas is allowed to collect in a confined and unventilated area, the air can quickly reach a toxic level. Some of these places include poorly ventilated boat cabins and engine compartments, confined spaces such as a V birth or head, and below the swim deck, where exhaust leaves the boat.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning happens when the deadly gas enters a human’s bloodstream by inhalation.
Initial symptoms are similar to seasickness. The first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, and nausea. If a person continues to breathe the undetectable gas after these signs appear, the poisoning can quickly lead to unconsciousness. If an unconscious person continues to breathe the toxic air, then death will result quickly.
Protect yourself and others:
Here are some tips on how you can easily reduce the risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
- Know where and how CO may accumulate in and around your boat.
- Install and maintain CO alarms inside your boat.
- Maintain good ventilation below deck at all times.
- Avoid swimming near the swim platform if engine or generator is running (Gasses can quickly build up near exhaust vents).
- Make sure all exhaust pipes and engine fittings are correctly fitted and in good shape.
- Familiarize yourself and your guests/crew with the signs of CO Poising
What to do if you suspect someone has CO Poisoning
- Make sure you and all others get outside to a well ventilated place
- If possible open hatches and windows down below to allow for the gas to escape
- If possible, turn off all engines, generators, or ovens.
- Seek medical attention. If someone has severe CO poisoning, the faster you act, the better the chance of survival.
Familiarizing yourself and educating friends and crew about the dangers of carbon monoxide can save your life. Read more at