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.