‘Ig­nore petrol fumes at your peril’ - BSS

Canal Boat - - News -

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.

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