Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents while boating in Illinois and the U.S. Because this gas is odor-free and colorless, victims may not realize that they are being poisoned while they are inhaling it. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct that is produced by gas-powered engines, including boat engines. If boats are not maintained or vented properly, the gas can enter the cabins and seriously injure or kill the victims who are on the boats.
People are unable to see or smell carbon monoxide, and they may breathe too much of it in without realizing it. This may cause them to become very ill or to die. The most common source of carbon monoxide is a running gas-powered engine. On larger boats, there may be rear-venting generators that also can produce carbon monoxide. When they are vented in this way, the carbon monoxide gas may envelop swim decks and other areas of the boat, posing substantial hazards for people on board. Engines that have not been properly maintained may also leak carbon monoxide into cabins and other enclosed areas on boats.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure while boating, boat owners should avoid using rear-venting generators on board that vent towards swimming decks. Carbon monoxide can build up in the airspace beneath the boat’s stern, killing someone in a few seconds. Boat owners should also make certain that they adhere to their regular maintenance schedules and keep their boats’ engines in good working order. Cabins and other enclosed areas on boats should have good ventilation systems installed. When boats travel at slow speeds or idle, carbon monoxide quickly builds up in cabins, on decks, in cockpits or on bridges. When boats are not loaded properly, the backdraft may also cause carbon monoxide levels to build. Boat owners should be sure to load their boats properly, vent them correctly and make certain that there are systems that circulate plenty of fresh air to protect themselves, their families and their guests.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill people suddenly and with little warning. Because of the way in which it affects people, they may become disoriented. When a guest on a boat is sickened or killed by carbon monoxide, a personal injury attorney may help the victim or family to recover damages.