Boat owners warned of deadly carbon monoxide risk


Those who own, live on or visit boats with enclosed accommodation spaces are being urged to buy and install an audible carbon monoxide alarm, after the death of two men from CO poisoning.
RoSPA is warning all boat owners of the deadly danger of carbon monoxide, after the two men died on the River Ouse in York in December last year.
Carbon monoxide is caused by poorly fitted or installed fossil fuel-burning appliances, such as oil, gas or coal burning stoves. In the case in York, the motor cruiser’s diesel-fuelled heater had been leaking exhaust fumes into the cabin.
The men were ashore at the time, but when they returned to the boat they were overcome by the carbon monoxide gas and died shortly after.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is still investigating the incident, but has revealed that the heater was installed by the boat’s owner and had not been professionally checked or serviced. There was also no carbon monoxide detector, which would have alerted the men to the danger and could have saved their lives.
Jo Bullock, RoSPA’s head of awareness and education, said: “This was a terrible tragedy that could so easily have been avoided. Please make sure to have heating appliances fitted and annually-serviced by professional engineers. For gas appliances, always use a Gas Safe registered professional. Please also buy an audible carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you to the presence of any carbon monoxide gas.
“Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer for good reason – you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, and it can quickly incapacitate and kill.
“At this time of year when so many of us are hunkering down, especially through lockdown, and switching on our heating, it’s so important to make sure you and your family are safe.”
More information on carbon monoxide safety can be found at For more details on the incident in York, click here.
Boats with permanent accommodation space on the UK’s waterways covered by the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) requirements must have at least one suitable CO alarm installed. The BSS has the latest advice specific for boaters on

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