Yesterday we posted an article titled, “Stupid and Accidents Seem to Go Hand-In-Hand.” Unfortunately, as offensive as the title may be to some, it is true and sometimes the truth hurts (or potentially kills). In yesterday’s man/person-overboard situation it was obvious that another common sense safety phrase was neglected. That phrase actually sets a goal for boaters; “keep the water on the outside and the people on the inside.”
Another practice that I see all too often is that of passengers perched in precarious positions in various locations on the boat that are not on the inside. They may be straddling the bow, where they could very easily fall off and be run over by the boat, they sit or worse stand on the gunwales where again they could fall off the boat. A recent “perch” I saw that really slipped into that stupid realm was a young girl, sitting on the swim platform, dangling her feet in the water while the boat was underway.
This “stupid human trick” could have two tragic outcomes. First, the potential of falling in the water as the boat pitched could have caused a deadly propeller strike incident. Secondly, the young girl was sitting on the swim platform and breathing in carbon monoxide. Enough of that could have made her pass out and fall into the water.
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;
- or, as in the case described above, sitting on the swim platform while underway.
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.