5 Ways to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on Boats [infographic]

DAN Boater
5 Ways to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on Boats (infographic by

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What is the best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning while boating?

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the top five known causes of death among boaters.1 It's also one of the most preventable. You may not realize it but, a buildup of this colorless and odorless gas beneath the stern deck or near the swim deck can kill someone in seconds.2

Follow these 5 simple tips to protect yourself, your passengers, and your fellow boaters:

  1. Get Moving. Avoid prolonged periods of idling and traveling at slow speeds as this can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your cabin, bridge, cockpit, aft deck and open areas.
  2. Balance the Load. Don't operate the boat at a high bow angle. Overloading or improperly loading the boat puts you and your passengers at risk for back drafting, which can lead to CO build-up in your cabin, cockpit and bridge.
  3. Breathe Easy. Blocked ventilation louvers and exhause outlets can cause CO to accumulate in your cabin and cockpit. Be sure to check and maintain these items, as well as your CO detector, regularly.
  4. Spread Out. Avoid water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing and surfing within 20 feet of the boat while it's moving. And don't dock, anchor or raft within 20 feet of other boats that have engines or generators running. BONUS: This tip can also help you avoid propeller injuries.
  5. Move Forward. Don't sit or swim near or under the rear deck or platform while the engine or generator is on. Boating safety experts recommend avoiding this area for at least 15 minutes after the engine is shut off.

Learn more about boating-related carbon monoxide exposure:

  1. 2017 Recreational Boating Statistics Report - US Coast Guard
  2. Prevent Carbon Monoxide on Your Boat - US Centers for Disease Control
  3. What Boaters Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Sources, Symptoms and Treatment - DAN Boater