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Carbon Monoxide -Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide -THAT SILENT KILLER - Finds Yet Another Way To Kill: Coast Guard warns public of dangers associated with: "Teak Surfing"

The United States Coast Guard advises boaters not to "Teak Surf." Recent boating fatalities revealed that carbon monoxide [CO] emitted from a vessel's exhaust resulted in CO poisoning and the death of teak surfers. "Teak Surfing" places the individual in position directly exposed to the CO in the engine's exhaust. This may result in a loss of coherent responses and even death. In addition, "Teak Surfing" dangerously exposes the individual to a possible propeller injury, and since it is done without a life jacket [PFD], it significantly increases the probability of drowning. Therefore, the Coast Guard stresses, "Teak Surfing" is a very dangerous activity and advises boaters not to participate in it.
"TEAK SURFING"/ITS DANGERS: The Coast Guard noted that carbon monoxide has found a new venue to ply its silent but deadly means: "Teak Surfing." This is a new and dangerous boating fad that involves an individual holding on to the teak swim platform of a vessel while a wake builds up then lets go to body surf the wave created by the boat; hence the term- "Teak Surfing."

Captain Scott Evans-Chief of the Office of Boating Safety, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters- pointed out, "Because of the multiple dangers associated with "teak surfing" and the carbon monoxide problem in particular, the Coast Guard issued this alert that strongly advises the public not to engage in "Teak Surfing" and warns that "Teak Surfing" may cause carbon monoxide poisoning and even fatalities."
"Besides carbon monoxide poisoning, Evans emphasized, two other dangerous factors are associated with "Teak Surfing. It exposes an individual unnecessarily and dangerously to a boat's propeller, and this is compounded by the failure to wear a lifejacket."
"Teak Surfing" requires that an individual hold on to the swim platform of a vessel that is underway while it builds up a wake on which he or she can body surf," explained Evans. "This puts that individual directly in the path of the vessel's exhaust and poisonous external carbon monoxide. If that in itself is not dangerous enough, the individual is now in a position that a slight miscalculation may throw him or her into a whirling propeller. Still ... it doesn't stop there. In order to "Teak Surf" you don't wear a life jacket, the two do not go together. As is easily seen, all this is a recipe for a tragedy. A tragedy that the Coast Guard wants to see averted; that is why we are issuing this warning."
THE COAST GUARD AND CO: Evans noted. "The Coast Guard, along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], other researchers, and the states, are actively investigating carbon monoxide and the dangers this silent killer brings to the marine environment and recreational boating. Recent information revealed that carbon monoxide exposure is a threat not only inside the boat, but outside the boat as well. A NIOSH investigation linked external carbon monoxide to houseboats with a design flaw that vented generator exhaust into a an enclosed space near the stern swim platform, resulting in external carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths at Lake Powell, Arizona. Once this link was established, the Coast Guard immediately initiated a recall of the affected houseboats. Today, the Coast Guard, NIOSH and the states are continuing to investigate exhaust problems in order to identify the most optimal manner for dealing with them."
Evans stressed, "Both on land and at sea, carbon monoxide is not to be tempted.  Researchers have found CO danger to persons sitting on or near a swim deck. That is why we cannot stress enough that you protect yourself and avoid activities such as "Teak Surfing", since it places you directly in the path of carbon monoxide's lethal tentacles."

U.S.C.G Recalls Houseboats Due to Carbon Monoxide

Headquarters Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20593
On February 23, the Coast Guard began issuing mandatory recall notices to houseboat manufacturers who may have built vessels equipped with swim platforms and electrical generator exhaust systems vented into a stern cavity.  This design has been found to permit lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide to build up in the vicinity of the swim platform.  The directed recall was addressed to those houseboat manufacturers who had not responded to the Coast Guard's December 21, 2000 letter notifying them of this design defect, which has been linked to a large number of carbon monoxide [CO] poisonings.  Six houseboat manufacturers have agreed to voluntarily recall all of their boats with the design problem.
Captain Ron Weston, Chief of the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, stressed, "The Coast Guard will leave no stone unturned. We are committed to eliminating this safety defect."
"We have made the manufacturer's aware of the problem, and that venting the generator exhaust through the vessel's side is an approved solution. We expect them to correct the problem quickly.  We are in the process of insuring that absolutely all U.S. houseboat manufacturers are aware of this potentially lethal construction design and that they immediately take steps to correct it on boats they built," Captain Weston said.
The Coast Guard noted two major manufacturers, Somerset Custom Houseboat Inc. and Stardust Cruiser Inc. responded quickly to its December 21 letter and are actively engaged in correcting the problem. The six manufacturers conducting voluntary recalls intend to correct all of their boats with this design defect-notwithstanding the fact that the Coast Guard cannot require them to correct boats over five years old. The companies are cooperating with the Coast Guard to assure that all owners with houseboats with this design are notified of the recall.
Since it will take time to complete the necessary corrections, the Coast Guard invites the media to join with them and the Department of Interior in publicizing this recall. The Coast Guard emphasizes that all boat owners/operators should be alerted to the dangers of carbon monoxide, and any owner of a houseboat with the defective design (see the attached diagram) should exercise special care until the manufacturer corrects the problem.
If your houseboat has a swim platform and its electrical generator vents through the transom into a stern cavity, do not run your generator when not underway, if someone is swimming in the rear area or sitting on the stern deck.

Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide collect beneath the swim platform or above the stern on those houseboats with this design (see attached diagram).  Recent data provided the Coast Guard by the Department of Interior and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health {NIOSH} reveals that the carbon monoxide hazard is greatest when these houseboats are not underway and their electrical generators are running.  This safety advisory is in effect until owners or manufacturers have an opportunity to correct the design of the generator system on these vessels.  The data from a study at Lake Powell, Arizona, yielded the preliminary evidence supporting the need for the Coast Guard to take action. {See attached background}

Due to the inherent risk presented by CO in engine exhaust, the Coast Guard recommends that all houseboat owners/operators with swim platforms take steps to ensure the safety of anyone swimming by keeping them away from any area where exhaust is vented. Also, owners should contact the manufacturer of their houseboat, if they have any questions concerning the applicability of this recall to their houseboat, or if their houseboat has this design and they have not been contacted by the manufacturer.

In September 2000, the Coast Guard received information from a Department of Interior and NIOSH study that provided important data about concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) associated with various houseboat designs. The study was conducted at Lake Powell, Arizona, due to a number of deaths and injuries there thought to be caused by CO poisoning. The study indicated that dangerous and even lethal levels of CO collect in a cavity beneath the swim platforms and above the stern deck on certain model houseboats when the vessels are not underway and the electrical generator is running.
Participants in the study include Dr. Robert Baron, National Park Service Medical Director for the Glenn Canyon National Recreational Area/Lake Powell; Ranger Steve Luckesen, National Park Service; Industrial Hygienist Mr. Tim Radtke, Department of Interior; Ms. Jane McCammon, carbon monoxide expert for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health; and others. Through their perseverance and dedication, these individuals were able to finally attribute a number of deaths on Lake Powell that were previously reported as drowning accidents to CO poisoning.
The study showed the most dangerous concentrations were associated with houseboats that are equipped with swim platforms and electrical generator exhaust systems that vent through the transom/rear panel into a cavity formed by the vessel's rear deck area. The study demonstrated that CO emissions could induce severe CO poisoning in exposed outside areas. Previously it was thought that CO emissions were primarily a problem that affected cabins or enclosed spaces on boats.
The Coast Guard has determined that the evidence from the Lake Powell study established a substantial potential for injury to the public due to this particular design and was indicative of a national problem. Therefore, it issued a letter on December 21 requesting that all manufacturers of houseboats with the defective design to contact the Coast Guard and identify the number of affected vessels manufactured. In addition, they were asked to provide a solution for the problem, describe their plan for correcting the problem on boats already sold and those to be constructed as well as their plan for notifying owners/operators.
Captain Ron Weston, Chief of the Coast Guard's Boating Safety Office, stressed, "The effort of these individuals is truly significant.  They were able to link external carbon monoxide poisoning to a number of deaths previously reported as drownings on Lake Powell.  This is an important contribution to public safety. It reflects a dedication that we in the Coast Guard greatly appreciate.  Public service and protecting the public is what the Coast Guard is all about, and clearly that is what these individuals and all those that assisted them are about. They worked long and hard to identify the true cause of these tragic deaths. They deserve both our appreciation and gratitude for what they have accomplished."
"The Department of Interior is continuing to assist the Coast Guard in getting the safety message out. This will help us reach a broad base of the recreational boating public. With the media's help, delivery of this important safety message can be expanded significantly," Weston said.
Weston concluded, "The Coast Guard cannot stress enough how valuable the cooperation of the various agencies and concerned manufacturers has been. Preventing mishaps is an essential investment that is equal in importance to our investments in emergency response capabilities. This is truly the goal of everyone dedicated to the health, safety, and welfare of the public."


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