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Carbon Monoxide: A Secret Danger for Boaters

Updated: Sep 19

A recent fatal boating incident proves that carbon monoxide poisoning can affect people in any type of confined space. Exhaust leaks have the potential to enter anywhere. In one recent incident, three people were killed in a suspected carbon monoxide leak on Lake Erie.

Three People Were Killed in the Accident

Authorities responded to a call about a boat that was drifting around in circles on the lake. When authorities reached the boat, their alarm went off to indicate dangerous gasses. Three victims were found inside the boat, two were pronounced dead at the scene, and an 11-year boy died at the hospital.

This accident underscores the dangers that boaters can face. Boats produce exhaust fumes that can sicken someone in a confined space. In enclosed boats, these exhaust fumes can reach the cabin, and boaters can inhale them and suffer injuries. Boats do not have to be enclosed to cause poisoning. Just sitting idle in the water can expose boaters to danger when they are inhaling the exhaust. A pleasant day on the water can turn deadly in a hurry. Proximity to other boats can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning, especially when the boats are within 20 feet of each other.

Boaters Should Take Precautions for Carbon Monoxide

Boaters should treat their boat exactly like their home, in that they should have a carbon monoxide detector installed. This preventative method can save lives. Boaters should also perform all routine maintenance to detect any issues that may lead to exhaust leaks. Carbon monoxide poisoning can sicken victims quickly, and many will never realize the danger that they face. This is why carbon monoxide is often called “the silent killer.” Even more challenging for boaters is that the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to seasickness.

When boaters are injured or killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, their families may have a lawsuit. A dangerous products attorney can investigate the accident and pinpoint the cause of the victim(s) illness. Doing so can help determine who should be held liable for the victim's losses. If the boat is a rental, the company that owned the boat and the manufacturer could be liable. If the victim owned the boat, he or she could sue the maker in a product liability lawsuit.

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