Chapter 8: Operator Responsibility

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is created from the burning of carbon-based fuels. When one burn fuels like gasoline, charcoal, propane, or oil it will release this clear and deadly gas out into the air. Gasoline engines, generators, cooking ranges, and space and water heaters all burn these fuels. These are the sources of the deadly gas one is most likely to find on a vessel. Also, remember the importance of regular engine maintenance.

Carbon monoxide is very difficult to detect without a carbon monoxide detector. Because the gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it is especially dangerous because one doesn’t understand that one is inhaling it until they begin to feel the effects of early carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream through the lungs and then displaces oxygen, depriving one of it.

Watch out for irritated eyes, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and weakness as these are the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Because many of these symptoms are shared with seasickness, one needs to verify whether someone is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, if one mentions that they are feeling seasick. Always be cautious and get them into fresh air, immediately since exposure to high concentrations of carbon monoxide can be fatal.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Most instances of carbon monoxide poisoning occur on older vessels and typically are a result of a buildup in the cabin or other enclosed areas. Exhaust leaks are the most common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning because it can be difficult to detect the fumes from the leak before it is too late. The carbon monoxide can seep through exhaust leaks, the buildup in an enclosed space, and poison someone fairly quickly.

Carbon monoxide can build up near the rear deck of the vessel. If the engine or generator is running avoid sitting near the back of the vessel, close to the exhaust. Also, never teak surf as it can result in having carbon monoxide blowing directly onto the teak surfer.