Following a recent tragedy on the Broads the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) has issued another warning to boat owners about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

There were concerns about a boat moored to the bank on Wroxham Broad for some time with no apparent signs of the crew. Broads Rangers and the local police were called to the cruiser Love for Lydia at 4pm on Thursday 9 June and found a man, a woman and a dog dead aboard. An initial inquest hearing confirmed that the deaths were caused by poison gas but the source of the carbon monoxide has yet to be confirmed.

BSS logoWhile the source of the carbon monoxide is to be confirmed, the BSS is reissuing its general CO safety advice for all boaters with the aim that, before someone steps aboard, they know how to recognise the risks of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and how to protect themselves from the ‘silent killer’.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas, hence the silent killer tag, and can kill quickly if inhaled in high concentrations. At lower levels of CO as it begins to take effect, the symptoms of poisoning are similar to flu or food poisoning, and include headaches, nausea and dizziness. As time passes and, or the amount of CO builds, you may suffer chest pains and breathlessness leading to seizure, unconscious. And if nothing is done, death can happen quickly after that.

So the early recognition of the symptoms is critical and action to get out to fresh air straight away can save lives.
This deadly poison gas has multiple potential sources on boats including all fuel-burning appliances, flues, chimneys, engine exhausts and charcoal BBQs.

BSS manager Graham Watts is asking: “Boaters, are you wise to carbon monoxide poisoning?”.

The BSS website has 10 tips to keep you and your crew alive!
1. All the crew should know the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to react if it is suspected
2. Install fuel burning appliances properly, in-line with makers directions
3. Follow servicing guidelines; maintenance should be routine and competent – Don’t allow bodged repairs, adjustments and adaptations
4. Always use appliances as per the instructions and never use cookers for space heating
5. Don’t block ventilation – appliance fuels like gas, coal, wood, oil, paraffin, etc. need sufficient air to burn safely
6. Don’t bring charcoal BBQs on board, or have them near a cabin during or after use – only stone-cold charcoal is safe
7. Keep engine fumes out of the cabin space, never use a portable generator in or near a cabin
8. Learn about the danger signs, spot potential hazards before CO occurs
9. Deal with problems immediately, never use equipment you suspect has problems
10. Install a certified CO alarm (BS EN 50291-2), test it routinely and never remove the batteries

More information is available at

Thanks to Harry Arnold and Waterway Images and to the Boat Safety Scheme and CoGDEM for information and images in this report.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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