Carbon Monoxide

The U.S. Coast Guard is recalling certain models of houseboats which are built with an air cavity underneath the swim platform and transom in the wake of a series of deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning on Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border.

The Coast Guard is also warning boat operators to shut-off gasoline powered generators with transom exhaust ports whenever the swim ladder or swim platform is in use. Swimmers are warned not to enter the air cavity beneath the swim platform where lethal levels of carbon monoxide are known to accumulate.

The investigation into the cause of the related accidental deaths included actual tests on houseboats at Lake Powell. The level of CO found in the air cavity beneath some of the houseboats was high enough to cause death after only a few breaths. This space, as wide as the boat and about three feet long, is an attractive place for children to swim into while playing in the water. Houseboat operators should be aware of this danger and take appropriate precautions.

Carbon monoxide can be a “silent killer” on houseboats and other recreational vessels. It is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that, in high concentrations, can be fatal in a matter of minutes. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness. Unless these symptoms are severe, they are often mid-diagnosed as motion or seasickness, making carbon monoxide poisoning an under recognized hazard aboard boats. Although high concentrations are deadly, lower concentrations must not be ignored because of the effects of exposure to carbon monoxide are cumulative and can be just as lethal.

Coats Guard Auxiliary at Lake Lanier is dedicated to boating safety and makes every effort to provide safety tips and warnings to our recreational boaters when appropriate.

For more information about boating safety classes, courtesy vessel safety checks, and membership, please contact us at 770-425-4252.

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