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When That Boating Trip Turns Poisonous

By Grant Law Office on December 10, 2020

large white luxury boat on the water

When people decide to spend the day on the water, very few consider carbon monoxide (CO) to be a potential danger. Most would assume that the real risk is drowning. However, CO poisoning on boats is a very real issue, and one that countess Georgians experience every year. Sadly, few are prepared to deal with the issue, and so many people suffer debilitating consequences, and even lose their lives to the deadly gas.

The Danger of Carbon Monoxide

CO is a gas emitted by most fuel-burning devices, such as gas stoves, engines, and heaters. This substance is only deadly when inhaled; however, once it gets into your lungs, it can do some serious damage. CO is attracted to oxygen molecules, which can be found in your lungs and bloodstream. This attraction leads the CO to bind to the oxygen, changing its chemical composition. The end result is that your blood cannot free up the oxygen and deliver it, which means your organs and heart are unable to get the oxygen they need to function.

CO can become lethal in a matter of seconds when highly concentrated, which is why it is so important to know the signs of CO poisoning. These symptoms include:

  • Intense headaches
  • Sudden confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or in someone near you, you should immediately seek fresh air, and get as far from the suspected cause of the gas leak as possible. Thankfully, because CO is a gas it will dissipate with the air, meaning that if you are outside and several feet from the source, you should be fine. However, always keep in mind that in high concentration CO can turn deadly in just a few seconds. Getting away from the source of the gas should always be your top priority.

CO and Boating

Boats require a great deal of gas to run. Propelling a vessel that could weight anywhere from a few hundreds to tens of thousands of pounds is no easy task. The power required for a boat engine to run is one of the many reasons why boats are so prone to CO build up. Boats with rooms, such as yachts or houseboats, also have enclosed spaces that could act as a net, keeping the CO in one place and not allowing it to dissipate. There is also very little space on boats. This means that passengers are often in one place, and if a passenger is situated too close to a CO leak, even if they are in open air, the constant inhaling of CO could easily lead to fatal poisoning.

If you are on a boat and you have noticed the signs of CO poisoning, then you need to act quickly. First, you should try to identify the possible source of the gas. Is it your engine? It is someone else’s engine? If it is your engine, then you should shut the engine off, and get passengers off board and away from the gas. This may require getting in the water. Be sure to distribute life vests, as the gas could cause someone to become weak or lose consciousness, which may lead to drowning.

If you believe the source to be someone else’s engine, alert them to the possible issue, and move your boat at least twenty feet from theirs. That will allow for enough space to make sure the gas is dissipating into the open air, and not being breathed in by you or your passengers. Once you are in a safe position, call the local authorities for help. A gas leak impacts everyone, and if it is not reported, lives could be lost.

Finding the Liable Party

While CO leaks and poisoning are not uncommon on boats, they should not be expected. CO poisoning is often due to some level of negligence, especially when it happens on a boat. If you or someone you love has suffered CO poisoning while on a boat, it is very possible that someone else is liable for your injuries. If you were renting a boat, it could be:

  • The vacation home’s owner
  • The boat’s owner
  • The manufacturer/mechanic of the boat
  • Another boater

If you owned the boat in question, then the possible liable parties include:

  • The manufacturer
  • Your mechanic
  • Another boater
  • A passenger

Never assume that your injuries are the result of a simple, blameless accident. CO poisoning is a serious issue, one that costs hundreds of lives every year, and it could very well have cost your life. If you are suffering damages as a result of CO poisoning, then you deserve proper compensation. Call our firm, the Grant Law Office, at (404) 995-3955 to speak with top personal injury attorneys who can tell you how much your case is worth.

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