Shrink-wrap, tarps, and canvas are used to protect the majority of boats stored for the winter all across the state of Maryland. Recently, Senator Ed Reilly worked on legislation to help boaters understand the danger of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Matthew’s Law, as it was proposed, is designed to inform boaters about the dangers of working under shrink-wrap, tarps, and canvas.
Carbon Monoxide can build up in confined spaces if gasoline engines are running. Even on unwrapped boats, there have been instances when CO has built up below deck and caused poisoning and/or death.
Here are a few rules to “LIVE” by when working on your boat:
- Never enter a covered boat alone. Always have someone with you who stays outside while you properly ventilate the boat.
- Never start gas engines or generators on a covered boat. Starting an engine on a covered boat will practically guarantee Carbon Monoxide poisoning for anyone under the cover.
- Utilize fans to circulate air while undercover.
- Ensure the cover/wrap used has properly installed vents. Carlos with Payless Yacht Detailing says that vessels under 27′ should have no less than 5 vents and for vessels 30′ and over should have 8 or more vents depending on the LOA.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning usually occur in this order:
- A dull headache
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
If you experience any of these symptoms, head for the nearest exit and do not re-enter without testing the air quality. West Marine sells a variety of CO monitors that you can purchase if needed.
Built-in CO monitors are the best for boats with cabins. Many newer models have them pre-installed, but for less than $100 you can install one wherever gas can become trapped.