BSS issue fresh reminder on CO poisoning

The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) is asking boaters to learn the lessons when, for the second time in six years, two inland boaters have died in a craft having equipment DIY installed with improvised, unsuitable exhaust systems and no working carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, according the to the Marine Accident investigation Branch report published today on the vessel Diversion, on which two friends died in York on 4 December 2019

The events of Easter 2013 on Lake Windermere that saw a mother and daughter die on a sports cruiser when exhaust fumes from DIY exhaust filled the cabin space were sadly repeated on Diversion when the wrong sized automotive silencer was fitted to a diesel-fuelled heater and then wrapped in exhaust foil hiding the problem until the MAIB investigation revealed the cause and the source of the highly toxic gas.

The report shows that lethal amounts of toxic CO were being pumped into the cabin as the leak in the exhaust was only a few millimetres away from the circulatory warm air intake on the heater and all this was happening without warning, as a CO alarm had been removed.

The BSS urges boater owners to look after themselves and their fellow crew members by ensuring that any appliances and systems used on the boat are installed safely by competent fitters, then run according to the instructions and kept in good condition with routine professional maintenance.

BSS manager, Kevin Tyson, made this reminder:

‘The last line of defence against either CO from equipment on your boat or CO caused by sources beyond your boat is a suitable working CO alarm which is compulsory for boats with cabins on most inland waterways.’

The BSS Requirements state that boats with accommodation spaces i.e. areas within a boat surrounded by a permanent boat structure, must have a CO alarm certified by an accredited third-party certification body to at least BS EN 50291 standard although the marine specific BS EN 50291-2 alarm standard remains the recommendation for any new purchases.

You can read more about what you need to do to protect yourself and your crew from the risk of being poisoned by CO on the BSS website at and we recommend taking the self-assessment challenge to test how carbon monoxide safe you are.

Friday 16 April 2021