The RYA has launched a campaign to remind sailors and boat owners of the dangers of carbon monoxide on yachts, especially over the winter

The RYA has launched a video to highlight the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning on boats, aimed at reducing incidents, fatalities and ill health related to the poisonous gas.

In the UK alone each year around 40 people die and over 4,000 are injured as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.  The MAIB has investigated three double-fatalities due to carbon monoxide on boats since 2013, in North Yorkshire, the Lake District and Norfolk. An investigation is also underway after a man was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in Cardiff onboard a privately-owned cabin cruiser just last month.

Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, explains: ‘The message is simple: carbon monoxide kills and an alarm could save your life. Boats are built to keep water out, but this also makes them good containers for gases and fumes.  There are many sources of carbon monoxide on boats including engines, generators, solid fuel burners and cookers. Canopies on deck can allow poisonous gases to build up, rapidly reaching fatal levels. Ventilation is essential. It’s known as ‘the silent killer’ because you can’t see, smell or taste it and it kills 40 people a year across the UK while injuring thousands more.’


L-R: The fuel tank, the copper input and output to the fuel pump and the heater, all in place and ready to give warmth

As temperatures drop, the RYA is reminding boaters that even low-levels of the poison can cause lasting damage to your health. It’s as vital to have a working carbon monoxide detector.
Stuart adds: ‘CO detectors are commonplace in homes, but less so on boats despite them being the perfect place for the poisonous gas to build up.  The RYA recommends fitting an alarm that is certified to the British Standard as suitable for use when camping and/or in recreational vehicles such as boats and caravans, which is known as BS EN50291-2:2010.’

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer with symptoms similar to colds and flu. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, confusion, stomach pain, and shortness of breath. If carbon monoxide is suspected, it is important to stop the source, get to fresh air and seek medical attention immediately.


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