Boaters must ‘wise up’ to the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning says a recent BSS report.

Danger from carbon monoxide from solid fuel stoves heating narrowboats


The Boat Safety Scheme report  reveals that in the past 20 years, over two-dozen boaters have died from exposure to these toxic fumes and that over a third of the fatal incidents are linked to problems with solid fuel stoves; with slightly less than one third involve exhaust gases from outboard or portable engines such as generators.  Other causes include gas appliances, oil-fired heating and leaking exhausts from installed engines.

To help boaters deal with the risks, the BSS and the Council of Gas Detection and Environmental Monitoring (CoGDEM) have produced new and updated advice called ‘Carbon Monoxide Safety On Boats’.  This shows how boaters can easily spot potential CO hazards and gives some basic, simple, watch-points that will show immediately if urgent action is needed to stay safe. The ‘Carbon Monoxide Safety on Boats’ information can be downloaded from the BSS website . Printed leaflets may also be available from boat clubs or marina offices.

The BSS recommends fitting a suitable audible CO alarm for added assurance on all boats with engines and fuel burning appliances. Alarms approved as meeting BS EN 50291 are best suited for boats and the leaflet provides detailed advice on where alarms should be fitted.

BSS manager, Graham Watts said – “A carbon monoxide alarm could be an ideal gift for a boat owner – a real life saver”.

Various small changes to the BSS Examination Checking Procedures for privately owned and privately managed boats are being implemented on 1 January 2013.  These revised BSS Checks are published on and they form the expected means of compliance with the navigation authorities’ legal requirements otherwise known as the BSS General Requirements. About 60% of the changes are editorial in nature, basically tidying up terms and descriptions. The aim being to help see that the checks are applied consistently by BSS examiners, effectively reducing risks and seeing safer boats.

Thanks to Harry Arnold and Waterway Images for this report.

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

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