Letter: Giving Thanks After CO Poisoning

In a recent article of the Green Bay Press Gazette a Wisconsin couple wrote an open letter of thanks to all those that helped save their children. A portion of the article follows:

On Oct. 9, our four children suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. We had been out boating on Green Bay and the kids were playing in the cabin of the boat. (We came to discover later that a cracked muffler was the cause). Amazingly, all four kids are doing great.

Thank you to all of the people of Sturgeon Bay who touched our lives that day: The U.S. Coast Guard, 911, the fishermen who helped land the boat, the fire fighters, the police officers, the paramedics who were waiting with oxygen when we arrived and took us by ambulance to the emergency room, the doctors and nurses at Door County Medical Center who treated the kids with utmost care and helped us to remain calm in the midst of it all and finally, for the helicopter crews that flew the kids to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Appleton so they could undergo hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments.

During the winter months boaters who are still out their operating tend to spend more time in the cabin. In light of that I thought I should remind boaters of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

A deadly gas produced when carbon-based fuels are burned causes carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas. It enters the bloodstream through the lungs and displaces the oxygen. Exposure can cause nausea, headache, dizziness, mental confusion and even unconsciousness. The symptoms can be mistaken for seasickness or the flu. If someone displays these symptoms, place them in fresh air immediately.

Sources on your boat could include the engine, generators, cooking equipment, and heating appliances.

People are most commonly exposed by: :

  • repairing the boat’s engine (working near the engine compartment or engine while it is running);
  • exhaust from other boats docked or anchored;
  • slow or idle speeds while traveling downwind, which allows exhaust to accumulate in cabins, cockpits, or other enclosed areas.

A new and dangerous boating fad involves an individual holding on to the swim platform of a boat while a wake builds up, then letting go to surf the wave created by the boat. Termed “Teak Surfing”, this practice is a sure way to induce CO poisoning. NEVER swim near the stern of your boat with the engine(s) running.

To protect yourself, maintain and inspect the boat’s engine and exhaust system. Keep forward hatches open to provide air flow. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Be aware of other boats near you that may be running a generator or idling for long periods while docked. Their carbon monoxide can get into your boat too.

You might consider giving a CO detector as a stocking stuffer!

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Lake Boating, Sailing News, The Boating Environment

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