HEALTH

Boat Exhaust: Be aware of this silent killer

Sep 1, 2023, 4:58 PM | Updated: Sep 12, 2023, 4:18 pm

HUNTSVILLE, Utah – Ranger Travis Hancock keeps an eye out for all kinds of problems on the waters of Pineview Reservoir. He gets really concerned when he sees kids hanging out near the back of boats.

“They have smaller bodies; the carbon monoxide can affect them a lot quicker.” Hancock said.

Carbon monoxide, an invisible odorless gas that comes with any gasoline powered engine.  In a matter of seconds, anyone breathing CO can go from feeling normal, to unconscious or worse.

An engine bubbles gas as it runs in a lake

Carbon monoxide, an invisible odorless gas that comes with any gasoline powered engine, and can be dangerous on waterways. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)

“Carbon monoxide could make you pass out to the point where you’d suffocate or drown in the water,” Hancock adds.

Dr. Lindell Weaver is director of Hyperbaric Medicine at Intermountain Health in Murray. He too doesn’t understate the concern.  “A person may die from lack of oxygen to their brain.” he said.

Weaver acknowledges that it’s rare to have a death from carbon monoxide poisoning on Utah lakes and reservoirs.

Dr. Weaver warns about carbon monoxide, an invisible odorless gas that comes with any gasoline powered engine and can be dangerous on waterways. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)

But he has seen some very sick victims.

“I treated two children, they were being towed by a boat at a very slow speed,” he said.  “And the exhaust came up and poisoned both of them.  With severe poisoning you are killing part of your brain.”

When carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, it’s critical that the victim get away from the water and boat exhaust. Fresh air is the only way to quickly overcome sickness.

Officer rides in a boat in a mountain lake

Travis Hancock is concerned about carbon monoxide, an invisible odorless gas that comes with any gasoline powered engine and can be dangerous on waterways. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)

The symptoms are confusion, light-headedness, nausea, and of course losing consciousness. That’s another reason why life jackets are a must in and around the water.

Hancock, who is with the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation says there is a very simple solution to avoid poisoning. Don’t idle the engine for more than a few seconds.

“Turn the boat off for a minute, it’s the best way to be safe on the water.”

3 men ride in a boat

Carbon monoxide, an invisible odorless gas that comes with any gasoline powered engine and can be dangerous on waterways. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)

 

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Boat Exhaust: Be aware of this silent killer