Carbon monoxide poisoning contributed to the deaths of three people on Lake Erie last week, as well as the recent death of a Strongsville student.
CLEVELAND – The 4th of July weekend attracts boaters in droves, all hoping to have fun and get some fresh air. However, this air can sometimes be a problem.
“Unfortunately, because you are in the open, people are lulled into a false sense of security because they think nothing is going to hit them in the open,” says TJ Martin of the Parma Fire Department.
Martin says carbon monoxide poisoning while boating is more common than you might think. In fact, just recently we learned that it contributed to the drowning death of Allyson Sidloski, a University of Cincinnati student from Strongsville.
RELATED: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Contributed to University of Cincinnati Second Year From Strongsville Drowning, Coroner Reports
Additionally, last week Coast Guard officers reported high levels of carbon monoxide near the boat where they found 3 people unconscious. All later died.
RELATED: Medical Examiner: 2 Adults, 1 Child Died From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In Boating Incident On Lake Erie
“It’s an odorless, tasteless gas, so you don’t know it’s actually there until it’s too late,” says BM2, Nicholas Durfey of the US Coast Guard.
While most people think of carbon monoxide and boating, they think of the back of the boat near the exhaust fumes. While this can be a problematic place, it’s not always the primary culprit. Martin and Durfey point out that in on-board engines, batteries, generators and engine compartments all have the potential to release dangerous gas. The way the boat is positioned on the water also plays a role, this is where the gas ends up. The important thing is what to watch out for, but unfortunately the symptoms are similar to seasickness.
Durfey said, “You are not feeling well, you have a headache. You feel nauseous.
“Blurry visions, upset stomach or nausea are again things associated with being on boats, so we can misdiagnose them,” says Martin.
Martin and Durfey both say the best thing to do is get the person to the fresh air as quickly as possible and call the authorities. They also recommend that marine grade carbon monoxide detectors be installed on all boats because most of the time you just don’t know it’s there, until it’s too late.
“If you’re in a confined space or if you’re nearby, you’re not necessarily going to smell it, but you’re exposing your whole face to carbon monoxide,” says Durfey.
Martin says: “Often the deaths can be attributed to drowning when they were mainly due to the carbon monoxide from the boat. “