The Boat Safety Scheme have today issued a warning on the dangers of carbon monoxide on boats. It reads as follows:
NR 001.17 Ignore petrol-engine exhaust fumes inside boats at your peril - it’s indicating your boat may be filling with carbon monoxide
If you can smell petrol-engine exhaust fumes inside your cabin or covered deck area, stop the engine, outboard or generator and get out warns the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) – you may not have any leeway to escape the threat of carbon monoxide (CO).
The call follows the publication of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report into the circumstances that lead to two people dying from CO poisoning on their moored motor cruiser in Norfolk.
MAIB investigations found that exhaust fumes from running the engine could blow back into cabin and fill the space with deadly levels of the poison gas within seconds.
BSS manager, Graham Watts’ said:
‘CO is a colourless, odourless gas, hence the well-known silent killer tag, but you can smell the fumes from the exhaust, so that is why our advice is simple if there are petrol-engine exhaust fumes in the cabin or enclosed crew area, don’t delay, stop the source, get to safety and ventilate the boat – hesitate and people could suffer.
‘The MAIB research and tests were eye-opening. Petrol-engine exhaust gases contain huge levels of CO and the investigation shows just how quick deadly levels of CO can develop.
‘Whether moving or moored, under certain engine-running conditions and-or wind conditions, CO can be drawn in or deflected into the boat.
‘Cockpit awnings can act almost like a funnel to channel petrol-engine fumes into the boat.
‘And in case boaters ignore, are asleep or cannot smell any petrol-engine exhaust fumes invading their crew space, boaters need the back-up of a working CO alarm certified to the BS EN 50291-2 standard.’
In June last year a man, woman and dog were found dead on their motor cruiser on Wroxham Broad which had its petrol engine running whilst on a mooring.
Five months later in November, another boater died and two fellow yacht club members were sent to hospital to recover after they too fell victims to fumes from an engine which was running on the moored boat.
Reports gathered in the last two decades indicate that at least 19 boaters have died and another 24 have had medical attention at hospital after inhaling the toxic CO in exhaust gases.
Full details can be read here