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Suffocating swim almost tragic

31 July 2013

A first ski boat trip was nearly fatal for 11-year-old Patricia.

Within a minute of jumping from the back of the boat for a swim in the waters of Lake Eildon, she was pulled out unconscious.

The 11-year-old had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

“It just happened so fast,” her father said.

“Patricia was splashing around having fun at the back of the boat and the next thing she was lying face down in the water.”

She was admitted to the nearby Alexandra Hospital and transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Fortunately she’s made a full recovery.

Not having much experience with ski boats, the pair was unaware of the dangers of carbon monoxide gathering at the back of the boat.

The inboard engine of a ski boat releases the exhaust gas through the transom at the rear, which can make this area hazardous.

Once inhaled, carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes.

“As beginners, we had no idea that we should avoid the platform behind a ski-boat when the engine is running,” Patricia’s father said.

“I implore anyone using a boat to check out the boat safety information before they get on the water.

“As we nearly found out, this hidden danger could have been fatal.”

Users of ski boats with inboard engines should remind passengers and swimmers to avoid the back of the boat while the engine is running, idling or after it has just been turned off.

Regular maintenance can also reduce the emission of carbon monoxide.

For more details on avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning see the pages on

Please note the names of those involved have been changed to protect their privacy.


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