Carbon monoxide poisoning among recreational boaters

JAMA. 1995 Nov;274(20):1614-6.


Objective: To describe the case characteristics of a series of patients poisoned with carbon monoxide (CO) while boating for recreation.

Design: Cases of patients referred for treatment of CO poisoning with hyperbaric oxygen were reviewed. Those cases that occurred during recreational boating were selected for analysis.

Setting: A private, urban, tertiary care center studied from July 1984 to June 1994.

Patients: Thirty-nine patients ranging in age from 6 months to 69 years who were poisoned in 27 separate incidents.

Main outcome measures: Characteristics of the poisoning incidents were assessed at initial patient presentation, immediately following treatment, and with follow-up telephone interviews.

Results: Of 512 patients treated for acute unintentional CO poisoning, 39 cases (8%) occurred in 27 incidents related to recreational boating activities. Individuals typically lost consciousness as a result of the poisoning. Most cases occurred aboard a boat that was older than 10 years, had an enclosable cabin, was longer than 22 feet, was powered by a gasoline engine, and was without a CO detector on board.

Conclusions: Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious hazard associated with recreational boating. The installation of CO detectors aboard boat types typically associated with this syndrome should be strongly encouraged.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning / etiology*
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Recreation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety
  • Ships*