You may know that carbon monoxide (CO) exposure can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, loss of mobility, and unconsciousness. In fact, carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the US. So serious is this problem that many of us have even equipped our homes with carbon monoxide detectors in an effort to keep our families safe from faulty furnaces, woodstoves and heaters. But what you may not know is that you can get CO poisoning while boating.

This deadly gas produced from burning carbon-based fuels, CO is undetectable by human beings because of its odorless, tasteless and colorless emission. CO enters the bloodstream through the lungs and displaces the healthy oxygen levels in the body.

Because the symptoms can be mistaken for seasickness, fatigue, or illness people are often unaware that they are suffering from CO poisoning. CO emissions on a boat can come from the engine, generators, heaters and cooking equipment. Even boats equipped with CO detectors may not be properly safeguarded if alarms cannot be heard over the sound of a loud engine.


Install a carbon monoxide detector on all gas-operated boats.
Make any necessary leak repairs on an urgent basis.
Be sure to inspect your CO exhaust system every 50 hours of operation or every 90 days (whichever comes first).
Always anchor or dock your boat at least 20 feet from other running boats
To ensure you and your passengers’ safety, move your boat out of the path of engine fumes from other crafts.
Never sleep on your boat with a gas generator running, unless you are certain (through regular inspection) that your exhaust system is working properly by providing a constant flow of air throughout the cabin. Always have a working, certified CO monitor secured on board.
Even non-lethal doses of CO poisoning can often result in a minimal degree of brain damage. By following the tips above you can enjoy your summer boating experience with the peace of mind that your friends and family are safe.

If you or a loved one has seriously injured in a boating accident, we encourage you to contact an attorney at Meshbesher & Spence for a free consultation about your legal rights.