CO Poisoning: A Silent Boating Hazard

A growing number of boating deaths caused by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning prompted the National Park Service to investigate CO exposures from generators and propulsion engines on houseboats. Studies showed there have been more than 600 boating-related poisonings in 35 states, with more than 100 deaths occurring in the past eight years.

The cause: CO engine exhaust builds up inside and outside the boat in areas near exhaust vents.

Ski boats were also studied- both transom and sideswipe exhaust. Researchers found that CO levels were highest when the boat was motionless. As the boat reached 20 mph and the person being towed was 10 to 60 feet behind, the levels were minimal. For details, click here.

Some important facts about CO:

  • CO cannot be seen or smelled, but it can be fatal or make people very sick
  • Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, confusion, fatigue, seizures, dizziness and loss of consciousness or nausea.

If anyone on your boat experiences these symptoms, get him or her to fresh air and seek medical help immediately.

Every boat should have a battery operator CO detector that is tested daily. See for more information.

Berglund & Johnson attorneys have handled CO exposure cases and know the experts necessary to prove your case. If you are someone you know has experienced CO poisoning, call us at 1-800-4-IF-HURT ; 1-800-443-4878 for a free consultation.

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