USCG Houseboat Recall, Continued
Due to the inherent risk presented by CO in engine exhaust, the Coast Guard recommends that all houseboat owners/operators with swim platforms take steps to ensure the safety of anyone swimming by keeping them away from any area where exhaust is vented. Also, owners should contact the manufacturer of their houseboat, if they have any questions concerning the applicability of this recall to their houseboat, or if their houseboat has this design and they have not been contacted by the manufacturer.
The Coast Guard's News Web site at www.uscg.mil/news is linked to the Office of Boating Safety's web site at www.uscgboating.org and the Department of Interior's website at http://safetynet.smis.doi.gov/cohouseboats.htm. Besides providing valuable information regarding CO and houseboats, these links provide other safety information.
In September 2000, the Coast Guard received information from a Department of Interior and NIOSH study that provided important data about concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) associated with various houseboat designs. The study was conducted at Lake Powell, Arizona, due to a number of deaths and injuries there thought to be caused by CO poisoning. The study indicated that dangerous and even lethal levels of CO collect in a cavity beneath the swim platforms and above the stern deck on certain model houseboats when the vessels are not underway and the electrical generator is running. -uscg-
Participants in the study include Dr. Robert Baron, National Park Service Medical Director for the Glenn Canyon National Recreational Area/Lake Powell; Ranger Steve Luckesen, National Park Service; Industrial Hygienist Mr. Tim Radtke, Department of Interior; Ms. Jane McCammon, carbon monoxide expert for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health; and others. Through their perseverance and dedication, these individuals were able to finally attribute a number of deaths on Lake Powell that were previously reported as drowning accidents to CO poisoning.
The study showed the most dangerous concentrations were associated with houseboats that are equipped with swim platforms and electrical generator exhaust systems that vent through the transom/rear panel into a cavity formed by the vessel's rear deck area. The study demonstrated that CO emissions could induce severe CO poisoning in exposed outside areas. Previously it was thought that CO emissions were primarily a problem that affected cabins or enclosed spaces on boats.
The Coast Guard has determined that the evidence from the Lake Powell study established a substantial potential for injury to the public due to this particular design and was indicative of a national problem. Therefore, it issued a letter on December 21 requesting that all manufacturers of houseboats with the defective design to contact the Coast Guard and identify the number of affected vessels manufactured. In addition, they were asked to provide a solution for the problem, describe their plan for correcting the problem on boats already sold and those to be constructed as well as their plan for notifying owners/operators.
Captain Ron Weston, Chief of the Coast Guard's Boating Safety Office, stressed, "The effort of these individuals is truly significant. They were able to link external carbon monoxide poisoning to a number of deaths previously reported as drownings on Lake Powell. This is an important contribution to public safety. It reflects a dedication that we in the Coast Guard greatly appreciate. Public service and protecting the public is what the Coast Guard is all about, and clearly that is what these individuals and all those that assisted them are about. They worked long and hard to identify the true cause of these tragic deaths. They deserve both our appreciation and gratitude for what they have accomplished."
"The Department of Interior is continuing to assist the Coast Guard in getting the safety message out. This will help us reach a broad base of the recreational boating public. With the media's help, delivery of this important safety message can be expanded significantly," Weston said.
Weston concluded, "The Coast Guard cannot stress enough how valuable the cooperation of the various agencies and concerned manufacturers has been. Preventing mishaps is an essential investment that is equal in importance to our investments in emergency response capabilities. This is truly the goal of everyone dedicated to the health, safety, and welfare of the public."
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