Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can be fatal in high concentrations. Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion of carbon-based material such as gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal or wood. Common sources of carbon monoxide aboard boats are the main auxiliary engines, generators cooking ranges, space heaters and water heaters.
Carbon monoxide can collect aboard boats in a variety of ways:
Improperly vented appliances
Entry of exhaust into enclosed areas, most commonly due to mooring too close to a dock or another boat that obstructs the exhaust port
Entry into cabin compartments by prevailing wind conditions or back drafts
The Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) warms all boaters that carbon monoxide poisoning is an extremely dangerous matter that can result in serious injury or death. The DBW also advises all boaters to ensure that:
Exhaust systems are maintained
Appliances and accommodation spaces are vented
Swimming areas are monitored
Carbon monoxide detectors are installed in accommodation spaces
It is unlawful for boaters to ride on the swim platform of a boat or to participate in teak surfing or platform dragging.
Carbon Monoxide Law
Assembly Bill 2222 (Koretz) requires that a set of carbon monoxide warning stickers be placed on the transform and helm of all new and used motorized vessels sold in California beginning May 1, 2005.
The California Department of Boating and Waterways has coordinated with nationwide boating interests to develop a set of universal carbon monoxide decals. The Department of Motor Vehicles will send the decals and an informational brochure out with all vessel registrations for the next four years. Boat manufacturers and dealers should order decals from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Decals will also be available to order online from the Cal Boating website.