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Thread: CO Kills

  1. #1
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    Default CO Kills

    [IMc Every boat with any enclosed space should have a CO meter.]

    Carbon monoxide poisoning killed young sailor Nicholas Banfield, but a $50 detector could have saved his life

    7.30 BY NATALIE WHITING
    UPDATED MON AT 7:38AM

    The mother of an experienced young sailor who died of carbon monoxide poisoning says faster action is needed from governments to prevent someone else suffering the same fate as her son.

    Key points:
    23-year-old Nicholas Banfield died of carbon monoxide poisoning on board his yacht in 2016
    The coroner who investigated his death called for governments to look at laws to make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in boats and caravans
    Mr Banfield's parents say their son underestimated how quickly carbon monoxide could kill

    Nicholas Banfield started sailing when he was just seven years old and worked as an instructor as a teenager.
    "He was a very experienced sailor, he'd sailed to Vanuatu and back and loved the water, he grew up on the water," his father, Rob Banfield, told 7.30.

    After growing up in Tasmania, his passion took him to Sydney to work with marine company Noakes.
    "He came to Noakes really as a qualified engineer and a qualified naval architect," his boss, well-known sailor Sean Langman, said.

    "But he was a very practical, hands-on person. He wasn't ever going to be bound to the office.

    "Fundamentally he was always going to work as much as he needed to to go sailing."

    One Friday night in July 2016, Nicholas, 23, took his girlfriend out on his yacht on Sydney Harbour.

    On Sunday, she called her family confused and unsure where she was.

    Police and friends launched a search.

    "We actually stole fishing boats off people, just put them off their boats. One guy in a fishing boat said, 'I'll take you around'."

    The little yacht was eventually found moored off Balmoral Beach, but it was too late for Nicholas Banfield.

    "The female was taken to hospital, she was in a pretty serious condition. Very confused and disorientated," Detective Sergeant Michael O'Keefe from the NSW Police Marine Area Command said.

    When police found the gas stove in the "on" position, they realised it was carbon monoxide poisoning.

    You can't see, smell or taste carbon monoxide, a gas formed from burning fuel.

    Generators, boat engines and some cooking appliances and heaters can produce it.

    In an enclosed space or with poor airflow, it can kill a person.

    While the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning in industrial settings is well known, some experts are concerned the risks in recreational areas have been overlooked.

    "[People] go on a boat or a caravan for leisure, they don't expect that anything is going to go wrong," confined space fatalities expert Dr Ciaran MacCarron said.

    "It's not in their expectation, they have no need to worry about it because they think the regulator and other people are looking after them, but clearly that's not occurring."

    Nicholas Banfield's parents said he was aware of the risk, but likely underestimated how fast it could happen.

    "The thing that we didn't understand and that Nicholas didn't understand, and having spoken to other yachties, was the speed with which carbon monoxide can actually lead to disorientation to start with, the incapacity to think things through and then to unconsciousness and then, unfortunately for us, to death," his mother Leanne Banfield said.

    "We had some expert medical advice on Nick's passing, the information was that his disorientation would have taken minutes," his father Rob Banfield added.
    "So we're not talking about people slowly being disorientated over hours, we're talking about something that can happen extremely fast."

    The coroner who investigated found a carbon monoxide alarm, which is a bit like a smoke alarm and can cost as little as $50, would have saved Nicholas Banfield's life, and she said "urgent reform" in the area is needed.
    "Nicholas Banfield was an intelligent and careful sailor with many years of experience," Magistrate Harriet Grahame wrote in her findings, which were delivered in December last year.

    The coroner said it was "frustratingly difficult" to find out exactly how many people die each year in Australia from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, but between 2011 and 2016 there were 15 deaths that were clearly attributed to using gas and solid fuel appliances in confined spaces without adequate ventilation.

    She recommended the New South Wales Government urgently consider "legislation to mandate carbon monoxide alarms in all recreational and leisure craft and vehicles with sealable cabins", along with further community education about the dangers.

    Just six months before Nicholas Banfield's death, in his home state of Tasmania, two men died onboard a boat on the Derwent River.

    The coroner in that case said the deaths were "entirely avoidable" if a CO alarm was installed, and recommended that all boats with enclosed cabins and petrol motors of any type be fitted with a carbon monoxide detector.

    In 2013 another coronial inquest warned of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in recreational activities, after three recreational shooters died in a caravan in Tasmania's Central Highlands.

    The coroner in that case recommended "urgent consideration in Tasmania of the mandatory installation of CO detection alarms in any residences, boats or caravans where gas appliances are either permanently fixed or where portable gas appliances might likely be used."

    That was three years before Nicholas Banfield's death.

    "I just think something needs to happen faster," his mother Leanne Banfield said.

    "We seem to have had lots of these recommendations being made from the different states. I think something needs to happen."

    Nicholas Banfield's former boss Sean Langman is taking action on the issue.

    "Rather than wait for legislation, we made the decision within our organisation that we would fit CO alarms on every single vessel that comes through the yard," he said.
    The project has cost his marine company Noakes about $50,000.

    Mr Langman said after seeing an "intelligent, experienced" sailor like Nicholas Banfield succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning he knew other people were at risk.

    "We see it as honouring the sacrifice, I suppose, that Nick made, and that's the only way that we felt that we could get it across," he said.

    Nicholas Banfield's parents have welcomed the response from Noakes and say legislating to make the alarms mandatory makes sense.

    "We just hope that might prevent someone else from losing a loved one. Just to give them one more chance," Leanne Banfield said.

    POSTED MON AT 2:17AM

    http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-0...00?pfmredir=sm

  2. #2
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Good post Ian.

    Entire courses are run on "Confined Spaces".
    A boat hull is a confined space providing it is keeping the water it's floating in, out.
    Enjoy every breathe today.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    The CO warning is good, but another question is why an onboard stove would generate CO. Not generating the C0 is more important than detecting it after it gets serious. FWIW, an old friend was poisoned by a rental cabin heater. He survived, but suffers substantial brain damage.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    All combustion appliances create CO, some more than others.

    I too have an acquaintance who was the sole survivor of a CO incident on board his boat.
    He presents like a stroke victim.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Everyone with a propane stove has a CO exposure.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I knew of a family all found around the dinette, companionway wide open, boat motoring down wind on auto pilot at about the speed of the zepher, all dead. CO. They happened to be entrapping the CO from the engine exhaust while eating lunch.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I have a CO detector on my boat, and quite frankly have been surprised how often it goes off when the breeze is from the right direction while underway. I do pay attention to it and make sure ventilation is changed to clear things and stop the 'beeping',

  8. #8
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I'm going to have to try to remember this when Alzheimers sets in.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I'm impressed by the response of Noakes Boatyard, the victims former employer. They now fit a CO detector to every boat that comes through the yard. Free of cost, and mandatory. Good on them.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    While I think it's important to highlight this issue (which I'd been aware of, but not just how bad it is) I get nervous when people start saying that things like this need to be mandatory. I think it is far better to educate people to the risks, then allow themselves to decide on the level of protection they feel is adequate.

    Having said that thank you for sharing this Ian to highlight how serious this issue is and just how quickly things can go wrong. Reading articles like this reminds me that I should be putting a CO sensor in my new house with the gas stove and probably the workshop with the wood fire.

    Cheers,
    Rex

  11. #11
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    A stove with good ventilation probably doesn't produce as much CO as one with inadequate air supply. Kind of a positive feedback, spiral-out-of-control thing.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    CO is the product of incomplete combustion. CO2 (along with H2O) is the result of more complete combustion. Living aboard in New England winter I have heated my boats with electric, coal, wood, charcoal, and diesel. All my combustion based heating systems caused the CO alarm to go off now and again. The alarms are very sensitive and I believe that the level of CO was well below dangerous. Also, all those heating sources had independent fresh air straight to the fire and reasonably tight exhaust. Sometimes the CO alarm goes off when all I'm running is a propane stove.

    It's very hard to locate a CO alarm as far from the source as recommended in mounting instructions. This may be part of why the danged thing goes off so easily compared to ashore. Also, a boat is an incredibly small space compared to a house or even a one room apartment. It does not take much. Better for it to go off and annoy than otherwise.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    My surveyor wanted me to install a CO detector in the sleeping cabin; I already had one in the main salon, a combination smoke detector/CO detector.

    So I ordered a purpose-built, hardwired marine CO detector and installed it at head level in our forward cabin. It is VERY sensitive and goes off regularly, even when we have no combustion whatsoever going on, just from other engines running in the marina. I had a long conversation with the tech guys at the manufacturer and they confirmed the sensitivity of the thing.

    We removed the fuse from it and only replace it when we take the boat out of the marina.
    --​Anson, M/V Kingfisher

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    There are better, smarter sensors available that make false alarms a thing of the past.
    They are more expensive but it's a case of getting what you pay for.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Propane on a boat? Sounds daft.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Propane on a boat? Sounds daft.
    Whats daft about propane on a boat? Or are you kidding?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    Whats daft about propane on a boat? Or are you kidding?
    I'm being tongue in cheek, yes.
    But I do not have propane on any of my boats, or any of my houses.
    Thousands and thousands of boats have alloy tubes for masts too...

  18. #18
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I have a wood stove on Kate which chuffs a little at start up with a bit of perfumed wood smoke emitted from the air vent until I shut it down a bit. I will get a CO meter in due course, but am reticent as my sleeping cabin regularly has partially combusted fumes in it. I lived in a 4 meter long caravan for 5 years and did the same, never an issue. But I know they save lives, and if they only save one life once that's worth some interrupted sleep now and then.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I was for years of the "propane is the fastest way to turn your well insured material asset - the yacht - into a liquid asset."

    But Granuaile came with propane and availability kept me from converting to CNG. I learned how to treat it safely. I keep it simple: No pilot light or electro-spark. Light by match or lighter. A shut-off valve where the gas line enters the cabin and a manual shut-off right there. I want that a few feet away from the stove so if something is burning there I can shut the gas without putting my arm in the flame. And I am by the stove while it's lit. If I'm just boiling water for coffee or a hot shower, I can do other things because I have a whistling pot, but I (or whoever is cooking) is not permitted to move from the galley till the stove is off.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I am the same way with propane. I was planning to put in a diesel cook stove, but I realized that it was not practical versus a small wood stove for heat and keeping the propane cook stove.

    I have the tank far from the stove and it has a manual shut off as well as a solenoid and a sniffer. The tank gets opened only when the stove is about to be lit. I then trip the solenoid and light the burner with a lighter. After I am done, I shut off the tank, burn the propane out of the line and then shut the burner and trip the solenoid.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  21. #21
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I use a kerosene stove aboard Bucephalus --an old Optimus 45 roarer. 19' boat, not much more than a V-berth below, and the stove is mounted just inside the companionway, "chimneys" up through the sliding hatch, so has lots of ventilation. I haven't bothered with a CO monitor, may not be able to have one aboard given how small she is ("It's very hard to locate a CO alarm as far from the source as recommended in mounting instructions."), but I think I may now look into it.

    Thanks for the heads-up, Ian.

    Alex

  22. #22
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Somewhat related, but still something to be aware of: A 63 year old woman in our town just died of CO poisoning because she parked her car in the attached garage and did not realize she left it running. Many new cars have keyless starting and are so very quiet you may forget its running, especially if, for example, you park during a rainstorm. Hybrids will also sit quietly with the power on but the engine off until the battery depletes and then the engine will come back on. The township issued a reminder to have CO monitors. I just bought one for my new house.
    Last edited by Brian Palmer; 09-30-2018 at 09:03 PM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    This is the best write-up I've seen.
    http://zenstoves.net/COHazard.htm
    Creationists aren't mad - they're possessed of demons.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Interesting that there are comments here that seem to imply that burning propane is bad/unsafe, but burning (CNG, kero, diesel or other combustible fuel of choice) is all good. Burning anything can result in CO production.
    Our caravan has propane as an option for the fridge, heater, califont and cooker - putting in a CO/propane detector was just about the first thing I did when we got it. We have never had a nuisance alarm - not sure if that is good or bad!

    Pete
    Don't underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!

  25. #25
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    As I read the posts, ALL combustion devices produce CO to some degree.

    The issue with propane is that it's heavier than air, thus able to settle in the bilge, and is explosive. The danger of CNG exploding is far less because it's lighter than air. The fire hazards of other combustion fuels and devices was not discussed but most here are hyper aware of that danger.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    As I read the posts, ALL combustion devices produce CO to some degree.
    That is correct Ian.
    And CO is virtually neutrally buoyant in air, making it even more dangerous.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat View Post
    I am the same way with propane. I was planning to put in a diesel cook stove, but I realized that it was not practical versus a small wood stove for heat and keeping the propane cook stove.

    I have the tank far from the stove and it has a manual shut off as well as a solenoid and a sniffer. The tank gets opened only when the stove is about to be lit. I then trip the solenoid and light the burner with a lighter. After I am done, I shut off the tank, burn the propane out of the line and then shut the burner and trip the solenoid.
    Slightly OT, but for those with propane on the boat, does anyone have a detector for leaking gas? As careful as you are shutting the fuel off at the tank, it doesn't eliminate the potential of a leaky valve at the tank.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Christie View Post
    That is correct Ian.
    And CO is virtually neutrally buoyant in air, making it even more dangerous.
    Also, it is cumulative in the blood stream. A very small amount overnight can add up to too much.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoez View Post
    Slightly OT, but for those with propane on the boat, does anyone have a detector for leaking gas? As careful as you are shutting the fuel off at the tank, it doesn't eliminate the potential of a leaky valve at the tank.
    yes I have a propane sniffer
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  30. #30
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    As I read the posts, ALL combustion devices produce CO to some degree.
    .
    Not true of hydrogen, or magnesium.
    Creationists aren't mad - they're possessed of demons.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    I'll take comfort in that as I sit next to my magnesium stove . . .

  32. #32
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    This is a sad thread but always food for thought about how I operate my boat. I prefer zero degree rated sleeping bags or electric heaters at the dock to be far more assuring than a combustion heater.

    For cooking maybe get a hydrogen powered cook top.

    https://www.empa.ch/web/self/hydrogen-cooker

    Will

  33. #33
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Yes, there's no substitute for through (in and out) ventilation in any boat. I lost a long-time shipmate and his wife to carbon monoxide poisoning. He'd been powerboating for many decades. They were liveaboards on a rather nice steel hulled powered houseboat which they kept in a covered berth. One night, a storm came through and knocked out the dock power. They simply turned on their generator. The catch was that they had their sliding glass door to the aft deck open and the wind was blowing the genset exhaust into the cabin. They were found sitting on the couch in front of the still turned on TV the next morning. Suffice it to say that alcohol was also involved, but who's to know for sure.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Not true of hydrogen, or magnesium.
    All combustion of hydrocarbons produces carbon monoxide.

    In the fire service I saw a lot of CO poisoning in people's homes. It's surprising how many folks use gas, oil or wood to heat their homes and yet don't have a working CO detector. I've done many a long-distance ambulance transport to take folks to a hyperbaric chamber for high-pressure oxygen therapy after CO poisoning, sometimes a whole family at a time. They're the lucky ones...the ones that didn't sleep through it.

    We lost a local doctor years ago to CO poisoning while on his sailboat. I forget if it was a cabin heater, stove or generator, but it was something that was running during the evening while at anchor. His wife tripped over his body when she got up during the night looking for him. He had been in the main cabin, she in the v-berth, and that was the difference between living and dying that night.
    --​Anson, M/V Kingfisher

    Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~The Dalai Lama

  35. #35
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    Default Re: CO Kills

    Some of the new models of small propane heaters have a CO sensor / shutoff built in, like the Mr. Heater / Buddy. A good trend, but for those with older models a battery-powered alarm is a great idea for tents and boats.
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