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Carbon Monoxide - The Silent Killer

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it. It is absorbed by the body more than 250 times faster than Oxygen and is known as the "Silent Killer". CO symptoms are very similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication. CO can affect you whether you're underway, moored, or anchored. You cannot see, smell, or taste CO and it can make you sick in seconds. In high enough concentrations, even a few breaths can be fatal.

Every boater should be aware of the risks associated with carbon monoxide - what it is; where it may accumulate; and the symptoms of CO poisoning. To protect you and your passengers follow these simple suggestions:

  • Know where and how CO may accumulate in and around your boat.

  • Maintain fresh air circulation throughout the boat at all times. Run exhaust blowers whenever the generator is operating.

  • Never sit, teak surf, or hang on the back deck or

  • swim platform while the engines are running. Teak surfing is NEVER a safe activity.

  • Never enter areas under swim platforms where exhaust outlets are located unless the area has been properly ventilated.

  • Although CO can be present without the smell of exhaust fumes, if you smell exhaust fumes, CO is also present. Take immediate action to dissipate

  • these fumes.

  • Treat symptoms of seasickness as possible CO poisoning. Get the person into fresh air immediately. Seek medical attention-unless you're sure it's not CO.

  • Install and maintain CO alarms inside your boat. Do not ignore any alarm. Replace alarms as

  • recommended by the alarm manufacturer.

  • Get a Vessel Safety Check. A VSC is a free bow-to-stern safety examination conducted by the U.S. Power Squadrons or the USCG Auxiliary. For more info click here:

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