Boating Safety: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

For Immediate Release: September 3, 2015 

LANSING, Mich. – With more than 1,300 square miles of inland water and 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan, residents are urged to have fun and stay safe while on the water this Labor Day weekend.

Every year there are boating-related carbon monoxide illnesses reported in Michigan, and there has been one death confirmed in 2015. While there are laws meant to keep people and the environment safe when boaters are on the water, the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning are often overlooked.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, and odorless gas that is found in the exhaust from boat motors and gas generators. Carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels at the back of boats, in cabins, and on the water near a boat.

Warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include flu-like symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion, especially when more than one person has these symptoms. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to coma and death. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning while boating:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector approved for marine use.
  • Swim in areas away from boat exhaust.
  • Never sit on the back deck or swim platform while the boat motor is running.
  • Avoid idling the motor while the boat is stopped or rafted with another boat.
  • Inspect exhaust hoses for cracks and deterioration.
  • Never block exhaust outlets.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately and call 911. Don’t assume that you are sea sick, especially if more than one person has a headache, is dizzy, confused, very tired, and/or sick their stomach.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and poisoning prevention, visit www.michigan.gov/carbonmonoxide.

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