‘Ignore petrol fumes at your peril’ - BSS
IF BOATERS DON’T act immediately on smelling petrol fumes inside their craft from engines or generators, they are exposing themselves to potentially fatal levels of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. This is the stark warning issued by the Boat Safety Scheme after an eye-opening investigation by the Government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch following the deaths of two people on a motor cruiser moored on the Norfolk Broads.
The MAIB investigation found that:
• The boat’s engine was being run at the
mooring, probably to charge batteries • CO from the exhaust spread under the canvas canopy on the deck and into the cabin • The cabin’s deck hatch and portholes
were shut • There was no CO alarm to alert the
boat’s occupants to the danger It also discovered that once exhaust fumes got into the cabin, it only took seconds for CO to build put to deadly concentrations. As BSS manager Graham Watts explained: “CO is a colourless, odourless gas, hence the ‘silent killer’ tag, but you can smell the fumes from the exhaust, so that is why our advice is simple: if there are petrol-engine exhaust fumes in the cabin or exposed crew area, don’t delay – stop the source, get to safety and ventilate the boat.”
The BSS summarised its CO advice into three critical points: if you smell petrol exhaust fumes stop the engine; know the symptoms of poisoning (headaches, nausea, dizziness, then chest pains and breathlessness); fit a CO alarm.