Thursday, 19 June 2014

Local boat users warned of carbon monoxide dangers

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is highlighting the dangers of carbon monoxide following a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report.

On 11 June the MAIB published their findings after investigating the deaths of two fishermen from carbon monoxide poisoning on board the fishing vessel Eshcol in Whitby on 15 January 2014.

The key safety issues identified were:

  • Two fishermen were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while they slept in their bunks.
  • The carbon monoxide was emitted from a lit butane-fuelled cooker that was being used to heat the accommodation.
  • The gas cooker, which had probably never been serviced, was in poor condition and consequently emitted high levels of carbon monoxide.
  • The deceased fishermen were tired and cold and weren’t aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning; they had left the cooker grill lit and had closed the wheelhouse door and windows.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm, which would have alerted the fishermen, was not fitted.
  • Although fitted with bunks, the vessel was not properly equipped for overnight sleeping; it had no toilet or fridge and the heaters were either not working or damaged.

The report can be found here:  

Advice for boat users

  • Barbecues shouldn't be used on boats - hot charcoal gives off dangerous amounts of CO and blown embers could set your boat alight.
  • Keep cabin ventilation clear to prevent a build-up of toxic CO.
  • Ensure all hobs have shut-off or isolation valves.
  • Use a trained marine electrician to install and service electrics.
  • Store gas cylinders outside, in a self-draining and fire resistant locker. Keep them upright and secured from moving.
  • Only carry spare petrol if necessary and store it in a self-draining locker or on open deck.
  • Don't go to sea without a VHF radio. Have a charged-up, hand-held, waterproof one ready for use at any time.
  • Check extinguishers on a regular basis for serious dents, leaks and loss of pressure.
  • Have enough life jackets for everyone on board, and keep them in good condition. 
  • Make sure people know how to close emergency valves and switches in case of fire

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