Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas produced when carbon based fuel, such as gasoline, diesel, propane, charcoal or oil burns. High concentrations of carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include irritated eyes, headaches, nausea and dizziness. As these symptoms are similar to seasickness and intoxication those affected may not receive the medical attention they need.
Boaters need to be aware of the sources inside and outside the vessel that produce carbon monoxide such as engines, generators and fuel burning cooking equipment.
Owners of vessels fitted with a rear vented exhaust system should remind passengers and swimmers that the rear deck and swim platform areas should be avoided when engines are running due to the levels of carbon monoxide.
Following is a list of things to do if you suspect a person has been affected by carbon monoxide. Remember to proceed with caution. The person or people may be in an area that has high exposure to carbon monoxide, placing you and others in danger.
- Evaluate the situation and shut off the potential source of carbon monoxide if possible
- Ventilate the area if possible
- Evacuate the area and place the affected person(s) in fresh air
- Contact medical help
- Observe the person(s) and administer oxygen if possible
- If the person(s) is not breathing perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until help arrives
- Correct ventilation problems and/or repair exhaust problems as appropriate.