Poison in the Air: The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Boating Safety

The Coast Guard has issued a strong warning to recreational boaters about the risk of serious injury or death from carbon-monoxide poisoning. It's crucial to take these precautions.

Turn generators off if anyone is swimming off the boat. Fatal levels of carbon monoxide can accumulate in the area between a swim platform and rear exhaust port. This is especially true for houseboats but may occur on any boat with a generator. It's safest for children to swim at the front or side of the boat.

Make sure that there is fresh air circulating throughout the boat at all times. Use exhaust blowers whenever a generator is on, and be wary of inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures on motorboats. Every boat should have a carbon-monoxide monitor on board.

Be careful when going slowly. When you're idling or cruising at a slow speed, carbon monoxide from the motor might not blow away, and it can stay at a dangerous level even after you turn off the engine. Your child can also get carbon-monoxide poisoning from the exhaust of another boat if it's next to yours. If he has symptoms of seasickness, assume that it could be carbon-monoxide poisoning and get him into fresh air fast.

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the September 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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