Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and it can be extremely deadly. Every year, carbon monoxide poisoning claims the lives of several boaters while sickening many others. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control show that more than 800 boating-related carbon monoxide poisonings have occurred since 2000, with more than 140 deaths.

A buildup of carbon monoxide usually remains undetected until symptoms set in. For some boaters it can be hard to distinguish because symptoms are similar to sea sickness or intoxication. But nearly all carbon monoxide deaths are preventable. Here are a few safety tips on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • An onboard carbon monoxide detector is your best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning. Check your detector regularly to make sure it is working.
  • Never block exhaust outlets as it can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide in the cabin and cockpit areas.
  • Be aware that if your boat is idling, or other boats nearby are idling, carbon monoxide can accumulate on your deck, especially if you’re near a seawall or at the dock.
  • Avoid activities on the rear deck, swim platform and near exhaust pipes if your boat’s engine is running.
  • Only operate devices such as heaters, generators and stoves in a well-ventilated area.
  • Regularly inspect your exhaust system to make sure no exhaust is leaking from it. Look for any rust, black streaking, or cracked and corroded fittings.