NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Two young kids are lucky to be alive after an encounter with carbon monoxide over the long weekend.
RCMP say a family was out in the Indian Arm in a large pleasure boat with an inboard engine. The girls, aged seven and 10, were resting after a long day on the water down below in the cabin en route to the North Van marina.
When the parents came down in the cabin, the pair was groggy and unresponsive.
“They stopped the boat, called 9-11, and brought the two kids up on the outer deck where they eventually regained consciousness,” says Corporal Richard De Jong with North Van RCMP adding they don’t know how long the kids were unattended.
“An hour or two at the most, probably not that long,” estimates De Jong. “The thing with carbon monoxide is it can collect any where at any time. It’s odourless and tasteless and it mixes very well with the air around you. Ten, 15 minutes is really all it takes to succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Lucky for this family, De Jong says it doesn’t appear there will be any long-lasting physical effects for the girls–they were given oxygen and taken to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. Police say the carbon monoxide likely came from an on-board leak.
The unfortunate event comes at the beginning of National Safe Boating Awareness Week–a time when most police and water sport outlets focus on tackling drunk boating and making sure life jackets are available for every passenger on the boat. De Jong say it’s easy to forget that carbon monoxide poisoning should also be on that list.
“You could be swimming beside a boat that’s been operating or that is operating and you can inhale carbon monoxide. It can come inside your boat just as you’re going down [the water] at a low speed,” he says.
“It’s really important to be aware that if you’re going to be in enclosed quarters, keep the windows open, keep the air moving through if you can, and install a carbon monoxide detector… It’s a very sneaky gas that can be fatal.”
He adds it’s important to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning so you don’t confuse them with seasickness or heat exhaustion. If someone complains of irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness or dizziness, De Jong says you should immediately move them to fresh air.