by Penny Robins
NSW Maritime is now issuing a warning to boaters regarding the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from engine exhausts. Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless.
Swansea Channel and Lake Macquarie
Chief Executive Steve Dunn says that only the decisive actions of his fellow boater saved a man from a fatal poisoning while the man was aboard his moored vessel earlier this year on Lake Macquarie.
Mr Dunn said a NSW Maritime investigation into the carbon monoxide poisoning in April found the quick response of a skipper on a nearby boat prevented certain death of a local man.
The NSW Maritime investigation report found the 67-year-old man boarded his vessel at its mooring in Valentine, Lake Macquarie, and started the inboard petrol engine. He then left the engine running to charge the battery.
As it was cold and rainy he only rolled up the centre part of the storm covers and left the cabin windows shut reducing fresh air circulation.
The man was found slumped unconscious over the helm of the vessel by a nearby skipper who came to check on him only because he felt concerned about the length of time the engine was running.
The skipper started CPR assisted by an off-duty lifeguard while another nearby boater called triple zero. Ambulance officers transported the victim to the Mater Hospital and he was later discharged after spending the night under observation.
'Carbon monoxide has claimed lives in the past and it is important boaters are aware of this danger,' Mr Dunn said.
'Regular maintenance, proper boat operation, and being alert to the dangers of exhaust fumes when in confined spaces can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.'
A good rule of thumb for boaters is: If you can smell exhaust fumes, or your eyes are being irritated from exhaust fumes, there is a good chance you are being subjected to carbon monoxide exposure. Prolonged exposure can lead to symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning including headache, nausea, weakness or dizziness.
For details go to http://www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/campaigns/co.html