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The Odorless Killer:Carbon Monoxide

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Old 07-07-2006, 10:28 AM
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Default The Odorless Killer:Carbon Monoxide

You guys please be careful out there!

Hidden Boating Hazard: Carbon Monoxide

Hattie Kauffman: Engines, Generators, Propane Heaters Produce It


(CBS) Summertime is boating time for a growing number of Americans. But such fun in the sun could be fatal, due to a hazard many boaters aren't even aware could be on board with them.

The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports that a little-known danger to boaters, carbon monoxide poisoning, has taken the lives of many unsuspecting victims.

In northern Idaho over the Memorial Day weekend, Natalie Meredith, her husband, Jeff, son Jonathan, and a friend of his, packed up their boat and headed out. The joyride was to turn tragic.

Cpl. Randy Herman of the Clearwater County, Idaho Sheriff's Department told Kauffman he was one of the first to discover the Merediths' boat. It had run aground and was partially submerged. Inside, all four passengers were dead.

Jeff, who was at the helm, was "slumped over next to the steering wheel in the driver's seat," Herman said. "And the other occupants were in sleeping bags. (They) had been sleeping in the back."

Herman immediately suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. The four were probably dead before the boat hit the shore, Kauffman observed.

Natalie's mother, Marcy Smith, recalled, "They told me it was Natalie and Jeff. I just dropped to my knees and said, 'I've got to get Jonathan.' And they said Jonathon was gone, too. And I'd lost all three of them."

Smith says her son-in-law was an experienced boater, adding, "I am sure that they had no idea that this could be a risk at all."

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, Kauffman points out. It's released by boat generators, propane heaters and, in dangerously high concentrations, by boat engines.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, and dizziness.

Boating safety courses aren't required in most states, so authorities say most boaters don't fully understand the danger posed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Jane McCammon, a former director of the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, told Kauffman, "Typically you don't see the initial symptoms of headache or confusion because these concentrations are so high that the person is there, talking, and then unconscious."

Cpl. Herman said, "Mr. Meredith was listening to music and his CD player was still on when we found him, so they had no warning and no indication that anything was even going on."

"You fall asleep, and then you're dead?" asked Kauffman.

"That's correct," Herman responded.

Investigators believe the family became victims of what's known in boating as the "station wagon effect," Kauffman explains. It occurs when boats travel at low speeds with the rear loaded down and the bow in the air. Exhaust is sucked in from the rear and accumulates inside the cabin.

But, Kauffman adds, you don't even have to be on a boat to be overcome by carbon monoxide. When boats are bunched together in a small area, the very air can become deadly.

Three years ago, Mark Tostado was poisoned while standing in a busy boat channel in Lake Havasu, Ariz.

His sister, Beverly Tostado, told Kauffman the medical examiner said "with the amount of carbon monoxide in his system, he passed out and was not able to save himself."

Yet another source of carbon monoxide poisoning: teak surfing.

As participants ride the wake behind their boat, Kauffman notes, they breathe in what could be deadly concentrations of carbon monoxide.

A handful of states have now banned teak surfing after hearing testimony from heartbroken parents.

Experts recommend installing marine-rated carbon monoxide detectors.

In California, boats with inboard motors must display stickers warning of the danger of carbon monoxide. The stickers aren't required in Idaho, where the Meredith family died.

Marcy Smith, Natalie's mother, tearfully told Kauffman she keeps thinking it's all a bad dream: "That's what's the hardest, 'cause she was such a bubbly person, so outgoing, and to not be able to ever see her face again, or hold her, or hold little Jonathon in my arms again, it just seems like life is really unfair."
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Old 07-07-2006, 10:41 AM
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Be careful everyone
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:12 AM
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Default Re: The Odorless Killer:Carbon Monoxide

A good friend of mine lost his son to CO poisoning, several years ago. He was a very experienced sailor. He lived aboard his sailboat. As I understand, the marina shut down electrical service to the docks for repairs. He started his portable generator to keep things powered up. Fumes migrated into the cabin and the rest is history.
you just can't be too careful...............
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Old 07-08-2006, 10:36 AM
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Default Re: The Odorless Killer:Carbon Monoxide

this was a hot topic in the news today.
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