The News

Carbon Monoxide warning

A safety bulletin has been issued to warn boat owners about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning following two deaths in North Yorkshire in the UK.

Before going to bed, the skipper (aged 26) and the crewman (aged 21) had lit the grill of a butane gas cooker fitted in the wheelhouse in order to warm both the wheelhouse and the adjacent sleeping area.

Eshcol was not fitted with a carbon monoxide alarm.

Safety Issues

1. Gas cookers are designed for cooking, not domestic heating. Accommodation areas need to be heated, especially during the winter months and, for this, appropriate, purpose built heaters are required.


2. Fossil fuel burning appliances, such as cookers, need to be checked and maintained to ensure they are in good condition. A yellow flame indicates poor combustion, resulting in an excess of carbon monoxide that, in a poorly ventilated space, can quickly build up to lethal levels.

3. Carbon monoxide is a lethal gas, which has no smell, no taste, is colourless and is extremely difficult for human senses to detect. Crew need to be vigilant and recognise the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can include: headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, confusion, stomach pain and shortage of breath.

4. Carbon monoxide alarms are not expensive and should be fitted. When selecting a carbon monoxide alarm, preference should be given to those marked as meeting safety standard EN 50291-2:2010, which are intended for use in a marine environment.

The MAIB is carrying out an investigation into the two deaths and will publish a full report in due course.

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