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Old 09-18-2020, 03:29 PM   #1
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Child dies of CO poisoning while on back of small boat

https://www.hccommunityjournal.com/a...c02b6e971.html

My heart aches for these folks, losing their little guy this way...

Quote:
Cassandra Free, who was a Kerrville resident and a coach at Tivy High School, is living in Broken Arrow, Okla., now. And her family recently suffered one of the worst tragedies imaginable, the death of her youngest son at age 9.

She has shared their story with friends via Facebook, heading her Facebook post, “Make this go viral.”

“This is one of the hardest posts I will ever have to write, but this information needs to be shared.

“Andrew Brady (Free) died on June 6, 2020. He was only 9 years old. Most people don’t really know what happened and we haven’t been fully willing to publicly share until we had autopsy answers.

“The news outlets said that he fell off the dock and drowned. We did not dispute this without having our own concrete evidence, but we knew this wasn’t what happened. He wasn’t on the dock.

“His brothers were treated that night at St. Francis for ‘Acute Carbon Monoxide poisoning.’ Andrew has been swimming since he was two years old – he was a STRONG swimmer – and yet he didn’t even struggle.

“Now we know why.

“His COHb was 72 percent. His so-called ‘drowning’ was secondary to the fact that he never would have lived at that level. What does that mean? It means Andrew was not going to live regardless of what happened next. He was at the back of our Malibu Skier most of the day. Boats, even moving, create a backdraft of exhaust. That’s right. Exactly what I’ve typed: carbon monoxide exits the rear of the boat and drafts right back into the back of the boat.

“Backseat riders are especially vulnerable at low speeds and in long no-wake zones like the one we had to cross to return to the docks.”

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. Sources on a boat may include engines, gas generators, cooking ranges and space and water heaters. CO can accumulate anywhere in or around a boat, including on back decks, swim platforms or in the water around generator exhausts.

CO can remain in or around one’s boat at dangerous levels even if the engine or one nearby is no longer running.

“I didn’t know this. No one I know knew this. It’s called ‘open-air carbon monoxide poisoning,’ Free wrote. “Another friend looked into this and found that it can happen on other recreational vehicles like 4-wheelers.

“Our little Andy, our Dude, was probably slowly dying that afternoon/evening and we didn’t know it. He would’ve been tired. His head would’ve started to hurt. Sounds like too much sun after a long, physically draining day of wakeboarding, wake surfing and tubing.

“At 72 percent, or 720,000 parts per million carbon monoxide, his blood was no longer capable of carrying oxygen. Andrew crawled up onto the back edge of the boat while we were packing up at the dock and became unconscious and unaware of his impending death.

“We had no idea anything unusual was taking place. Had he not fallen over; had he made it into the car; even if he wouldn’t have passed at the lake, he would’ve been so severely brain-damaged that he likely would’ve passed away in his sleep on the way home. Even if he would’ve gone immediately to the ER at that time, he still would’ve died. No medicine could’ve saved him at his levels. There was nothing that could’ve been done at this point.

“So we have a little peace. He did not suffer – he fell asleep. We couldn’t have done anything differently with the knowledge we had.

“But everyone else can. Online boat forums will say this risk is minimal, or an ‘old wives’ tale,’ that it just doesn’t happen.

“You have to search for this information to find it. For sure, used boats do not come with this warning. But do you want to risk that your child falls into this category?

“Now you know, at the loss of our precious child, that it can happen. It may be a one-in-a-million chance, but it exists. It happens in minutes – sometimes in 60 seconds. Andy was smaller than his brothers (ages 13 and 15). They were moving around the boat more than he was. They were at slightly less risk than their youngest brother.

“But we could’ve lost all three of our children that night. As hard as it is to swallow, we were fortunate – fortunate that Andy doesn’t have to spend his life on life support, fortunate that his brothers lived.

“It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

“All of this information was confirmed by a doctor friend and by the Tulsa County Medical Examiner’s Office. I’ve been assured that my baby was so far gone that he did not cry out for me in his mind as he died. He went to sleep and that was it.

“I always hated restrictions enforced by the government – inspections, registrations and mandatory recalls that affected vehicle performance. But there is a purpose. Cars, street motorcycles and airplane manufacturers are required to notify registered owners of issues that can impact human life. Boat manufacturers do not.

“In the past 15 years, we’ve owned four registered boats and four registered personal watercraft. We’ve never received a notice of any dangerous conditions.

“But as of 2010, outside sources began to seriously investigate/test potential watercraft issues. Many state the numbers of the CO deaths on the lakes are skewed – skewed because they’re reported as heart failure or drowning.

“If you search online hard enough, you can find this, but who would ever think to research? Now you can research. And now I know that boat manufacturers do know of the dangers, and they’re not being proactive to help people stay safe.

“They make further modifications on newer models, but do not notify owners of used boats. The CDC researches it, but no one has asked that boats get annual exhaust inspections, and be retro-fitted for human safety when solutions are available.

“And it turns out there are solutions available. A boat repair shop would tell you there’s nothing wrong with my boat, but clearly there is.

“This needs to change.

“Don’t let Andy’s death be in vain. Educate yourself, and your friends and family. I do not want anyone else ever to experience what I am going through.

“I’m begging you, please share this!”

News reports about Andy’s death said it occurred at Eufaula Lake in MacIntosh County, Okla., just south of Interstate 40; and the family lives in Broken Arrow, near Tulsa. Andy was taken to St. Francis Hospital, Tulsa.

Local responses

Sharon Keith, in charge of the Emergency Room at Peterson Regional Medical Center, said she has never known of a case of carbon monoxide poisoning presented for treatment here.

But she knows the Free family, as her photographer-husband Mike took pictures of the boys when they lived in Kerrville.

A game warden assigned to Kerrville’s Texas Parks & Wildlife office, and the Kerrville Fire Department’s EMS director said their training hasn’t included information on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, not even with the KFD dive team; and they know of no cases encountered in their work on area lakes.

In the Kerrville area, motorized watercraft aren’t allowed in the Guadalupe River in Louise Hay Park or on Nimitz Lake, but people can use them on Ingram Lake.

Ben M. Rosario, a “vessel examiner” from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in San Antonio, has visited Kerr County to distribute safe boating tips and users’ responsibility booklets to the public on occasion, including at Upper Guadalupe River Authority “River Cleanup Days,” Tara Bushnoe said.

Two handouts are titled “Safe Boating Tips for Anglers, Hunters & Campers” and “You’re in Command – Boat Responsibility.”

In the first, a page titled “Dangers Astern” has carbon monoxide poisoning information and warnings on three-fourths of that page.

In the other 14-panel folded brochure, two panels list symptoms, warnings and protective steps.

It says early symptoms of CO poisoning can be confused with seasickness or intoxication, therefore those affected may not get needed medical attention.

Boat “captains” should have marine-grade, properly maintained CO detectors on board, and properly tuned engines; treat symptoms (headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness) as CO poisoning as quickly as possible; and take immediate action to ventilate fumes, by heading the boat into the wind and opening hatches and other “ports” for ventilation.
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Old 09-18-2020, 03:37 PM   #2
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And that is why I mounted a CO sniffer inside at the stern door.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:00 PM   #3
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We have 3 CO monitors inside our diesel boat, but I have never heard of any boaters with outside CO monitors.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:14 PM   #4
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Tragic for sure but that was a petrol boat.
Not as bad on a diesel powered vessel but it still happen in enclosed spaces.

Quote:
While diesel fuel combustion engines produce lower levels of carbon monoxide than gasoline engines, these emissions can still generate lethal amounts of carbon monoxide given a sufficient amount of time in an enclosed space. Carbon monoxide makes up anywhere from 2% to 12% of diesel exhaust gases.
https://www.dieselinjurylaw.com/carb...xide-poisoning


Quote:
While it is known that diesel fuel combustion engines produce much lower concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) than gasoline engines, these emissions could certainly generate lethal ambient concentrations given a sufficient amount of time in an enclosed space and under suitable environmental conditions. The authors report a case of CO poisoning which was initially referred for autopsy as a presumed natural death of a truck driver found in the secure cab of a running diesel tractor trailer truck. Completion of the preliminary investigation ascribed death to complications of ischemic heart disease (IHD), pending toxicological analysis that included quantification of CO. When the toxicology results showed lethal blood COHbg, the cause of death was re-certified as CO intoxication secondary to inhalation of (diesel) vehicular exhaust fumes.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18643868/
Funnily enough, I was looking at gas detectors on eBay about half an hour ago.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:38 PM   #5
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Can't imagine having to live with that.

Canada has a mandatory test/boating course that you have to pass to get a boating license, and I remember this issue being part of it.

So incredibly sad.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:46 PM   #6
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US states that have a mandatory NASBLA approved course normally cover the "station wagon effect" of exhaust too.


What is sad is CO is odorless, but exhaust usually isn't. So alerting kids that if they smell exhaust...time to move should be a standard instruction for the days boating.
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Old 09-19-2020, 05:29 AM   #7
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I wonder if "thru-propeller" exhausts would help? I had underwater exhaust (not thru hull) in my former boat's B3 stern drive - rarely smelled exhaust, and much quieter than thru-hulls.
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark P View Post
I wonder if "thru-propeller" exhausts would help? I had underwater exhaust (not thru hull) in my former boat's B3 stern drive - rarely smelled exhaust, and much quieter than thru-hulls.
The article does mention there being modifications that have been made over the years, and that there isn't any sort of inspection or notification process that covers this.

It's a shame, really, because every year there's yet another series of boaters that die because of how serious a risk CO poisoning can be. CO is a cumulative poisoning, it takes a while for the body to recover.

From what I've read elsewhere, one popular aftermarket mod for mitigating this is from FAE. https://www.freshairexhaust.com/about-us/

Make sure friends that you boat with understand the perils of CO exposure. Sometimes people just don't know.
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Old 09-19-2020, 10:20 AM   #9
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I have participated in a CO death investigation on an engr level due to a boat gasser gennie.

A few technical bits: The article had a statement that engines should be "properly tuned". This is NOT BS. A gasoline engine running with a "rich" mixture makes LOTS of CO. An engine running with correct mixture (near stoichiometric) makes some CO, usually not enough to cause health issues unless ventilation is bad.

In the case I investigated, the gennie had been running poorly and the mixture was set rich to get it more stable. We test ran it with CO detectors on board and actually had to evacuate the scene to protect our health, levels got that high.

Diesels usually make little CO. But one running at or near full load, or running sick, making black smoke, a lot of the combustion is oxygen starved (running rich) and then CO production goes way up. If the diesel is running normally like most gennies do, CO production is pretty low.

Still a good idea to have CO detectors on board diesel trawlers.

If you have gasoline engines, CO precautions are a huge big deal.

Many older carbureted marine engines are purposefully run rich to lower combustion chamber temps, and that means CO. Add an aftermarket performance carburetor and it could be even worse.

Modern EFI engines (probably) don't run as rich, so less risk there.

When around gasser marine engines just a walk around the transom with engine idling I can smell a rich mixture. Can detect it on most carb'd engines. Most EFI, I don't pick up the odor.

I wonder if the boat in the article had a modified engine.

Sad stuff indeed.
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Old 09-19-2020, 11:07 AM   #10
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As always there is more to this story. We are not getting all the details.
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Old 09-19-2020, 11:24 AM   #11
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Happened to a family here in Sweden a few years ago, while sleeping. They apparently had a kerosene heater in the cabin and no open windows or doors.
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Old 09-19-2020, 12:55 PM   #12
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In all my time around boating...pretty much full time since 1977....never heard of CO poisoning to death in an open boat except when "teak surfing" and they were just as likely to get prop chopped unless behind a jet boat.
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Old 09-19-2020, 01:57 PM   #13
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I've never really heard of it either. Some boats do pull a lot of fumes along with them though, so it's definitely possible.
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Old 09-19-2020, 04:16 PM   #14
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I first heard of poisoning from generators, primarily on houseboats. There have been many deaths, especially on the Cumberland River. This is the first I've heard from the engines on an open boat.

Someone above also mentioned the "station wagon effect." There's a reason for that name and many still drive station wagons. We just call them Vans or SUV's today. While catalytic converters have greatly reduced the risks, they haven't eliminated it. No one should ever ride in either with the tailgate open.

There's even a slight risk with the trunk open, especially over long distances. Need to be aware plus keep some windows open for ventilation.
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Old 09-19-2020, 05:44 PM   #15
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I was aboard a sedan style boat with a flybridge. There were about 6 people on board and all the people in the cockpit, me included, started feeling bad, headaches mostly. I told the owner that his boat had a CO problem due to the design (station wagon effect) and he repeatedly denied any issue. Up on the flybridge there was no issue. I tried to tell him that he needed to open a forward facing hatch and/or some cabin windows to break the low pressure area in the cockpit but he refused so I told him that I wanted off the boat and never went with him again. He was a bit of an ass anyway...
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Old 09-19-2020, 06:40 PM   #16
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Re: CO detection..... Perhaps it would be wise to have a mobile CO detector to sample suspected areas????
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:12 PM   #17
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I work in an industrial facility and wear a 4 gas monitor when in the plant. An idling pick-up truck will set the CO monitor off readily when walking past. It will spike way past the 15 minute short term exposure of 125ppm, particularly if it is cold (-25C or so) out. Vehicle is running rich and air is still. I've seen more than 500ppm outside in a parking lot.

It seems credible that a small person with long exposure to moderate amounts could be overwhelmed in this manner.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:15 PM   #18
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Yes and children are more affected than adults.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:31 PM   #19
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I always have to pay attention on my boat when up on plane. Wind right on the nose and windshield closed is sometimes an issue for station wagon effect. Not an issue at low speed unless there's a strong tailwind.

Partly for fuel savings and partly for reducing CO and smell, I tend to help the idle mixture on my carbs set to the leanest that gives an acceptable idle. Especially once they've been running for a minute and the chokes start to open, my engines are significantly less smelly than most of the other gas powered boats in the marina. More on par with the fuel injected ones, while the other carbed ones are much more fumey when coming and going.
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Old 09-25-2020, 01:24 PM   #20
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A boat can suck up exhaust even if it's a thru hub outboard. When I had my cuddy cabin I found the exhaust unbearable at low speeds...but I found a solution. I hung a flap of Sunbrella straight down off the back of the Bimini top. We had a CO detector in the cockpit which had a readout so we know it worked. BTW, there's a Honda 1000i generator behind the blue cover at the stern - we used it to run the air conditioner. The Honda never caused any CO concerns even at anchor overnight.
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