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Silent killer warning for winter boating

14 June 2019

Sunny winter weekends can be a perfect opportunity for boaters to take advantage of quiet traffic conditions and calm waters – it’s also a timely reminder about the dangers of what’s known as a “silent killer”.

DPTI Maritime Safety Manager Gordon Panton said many remain unaware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning can be experienced by boaters for a range of reasons, but few would expect to suffer the effects during a sunny day,” Mr Panton said.

“Fumes from a boat’s exhaust can accumulate in the cockpit area where crew are seated, especially if it is partially enclosed by clears or a canopy.”

Skippers are urged to make sure their boat’s seating areas are well ventilated, especially if heating or cooking appliances are being used, and to be aware of the likely signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and loss of consciousness.

“It is called the silent killer for good reason. People, including the driver, can slip into an unconscious state without warning," Mr Panton said.

"We often associate this condition with workplace or maintenance tasks, where people are overcome by fumes in an enclosed space or cargo hold, but it can happen in an apparently normal open area under certain conditions.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning can even be experienced by swimmers who are in the water near the stern of a boat.

“A carbon monoxide gas alarm can be fitted cheaply to any boat and can save lives,” said Mr Panton, “Such alarms can be purchased from your local hardware store.”

Find more information here.