Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas you can’t see, smell or taste. CO can come from anything that burns a carbon-based fuel (gasoline, propane, charcoal, oil, etc.) so it can be created by your engines. CO acts a lot like air. It doesn’t rise or fall but spreads evenly throughout an enclosed space.
CO comes in through your lungs and cuts off the oxygen supply to your body, causing death in minutes. Symptoms include headaches, nausea and fatigue.
Help protect yourself and others from CO poisoning:
- Idle your engine only in well-ventilated A tail wind can easily carry CO back on board.
- Protection includes: ventilation; using blowers; and installing detectors
- Only heat the cabin or cook when in a well-ventilated
- Make sure that cabin extensions and areas fitted with canvas tops are well
- Use only fuel-burning engines or appliances that are certified or designed for marine use and make sure they are only used in well-ventilated
- Use a marine-grade CO detector and check its batteries before every
CO can build up when:
- Two vessels are tied to each other;
- You are docked alongside a seawall;
- Your load causes the bow to ride high; or
- A fuel-burning appliance or engine is running while your vessel is not
- Around Swimming between the pontoons of houseboats or pontoon boats can be very risky due to the potential for CO (from the engine) to build up in this space
Safely Using Fuel-burning Appliances
Gas fumes and leaking propane and butane are heavier than air and will quickly flow into the lower parts of your boat. They are very hard to remove and are highly explosive. On board appliances that run on propane or butane may present more risk than gasoline.
To use propane and butane safely:
- Use a fuel-burning appliance only when in a well-ventilated
- Secure portable appliances and heaters so that unexpected movement doesn’t cause a
- Secure gas cylinders and tanks in an area with good
- Install all fuel-burning equipment by following the manufacturer’s
- Always attend to an open-flame heating, cooking or refrigeration