Kelley Uustal Trial Attorney
August 25, 2017

Florida Summers Increase Risk of Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Summertime in Florida means fun on the water and stormy weather – and both bring an increased danger for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Each year, more than 10,000 individuals will suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning and 500 will die from inhalation of this toxic gas.

Many exposures are the result of exhaust fumes from boat engines and portable generators used on boats, or during the frequent power outages that come along with Florida’s hurricane season.

Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning may be eligible for financial compensation when exposure to carbon monoxide is the result of faulty inspections, poor maintenance, manufacturer defects, or other neglectful practices.

Learn how to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning and how to collect compensation if you or a loved one has experienced an exposure.

Boating-Related Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Hazards

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 800 cases of carbon monoxide poisonings and 140 deaths were the result of boating-related exposures in the last 15 years. More than 300 of these cases occurred on houseboats. Over 200 were due to boat generator exhaust.

Gas, charcoal, kerosene, and oil-burning boat engines and onboard power generators produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct. Carbon monoxide can settle on the water’s surface and accumulate in closed spaces of boats that are running but moving slowly or idling.

In addition, engines, generators, and exhaust systems may be in disrepair or may have leaks or manufacturing defects that cause incomplete combustion.

Because exhaust vents are often located near the rear of the boat, especially in larger vessels like houseboats and yachts, carbon monoxide can build up quickly in the water around rear swim decks, in cabins and cockpits, and under rain tarps or shade umbrellas.

Tubers or “teak surfers” who body surf behind ski boats are also in danger of exposure and drowning.

Carbon monoxide is both colorless and odorless. Individuals who inhale carbon monoxide can suffer permanent damage or death within minutes – before experiencing any symptoms of exposure. Swimmers can lose consciousness and drown.

Hurricane Season Brings Increased CO Poisoning Risk

Floridians who aren’t spending time on the water can also be at elevated risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Hurricanes and tropical storms bring frequent power outages.

Many Florida residents have invested in portable generators to keep things running during storm season.

Home generators used for cooking, electronics, air conditioning, and lighting are a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning in Florida each year.

According to the CDC, six deaths and 167 carbon monoxide poisonings occurred in the 2004 Florida hurricane season alone. Gas-powered generators were the cause of 96% of the nonfatal poisonings, and five of the six deaths.

A majority of these incidents involved generators placed outdoors, and 86% percent of the victims did not own a CO detector at the time.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The only sign of carbon monoxide is the symptoms it produces. Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure can include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

Remember that exposure can result in long-term damage or death even before any of these symptoms have time to develop. Taking preventative measures before exposure is the best way to ensure your safety.

Take these precautions when boating or using portable generators:

  • Follow all manufacturer safety instructions.
  • Turn engines and generators off when possible.
  • Only use portable generators outdoors, at least 15 feet away from doors, basements, garages, and windows.
  • Schedule regular, professional inspections of engines, generators, fuel-burning appliances, and exhaust systems.
  • Swim or lounge only near the front of boats or pontoons – especially when the craft is idling.
  • Stay away from exhaust vents.
  • Stay back 20 feet when body surfing or water skiing.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in all sleeping quarters.
  • Test carbon monoxide detector batteries often.
  • Wear a life jacket at all times.
  • Anchor or dock at least 20 feet away from other boats running generators or engines.

If you suspect someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide, immediately move them into fresh air and call 911.

Financial Recovery Available for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning or Death

Under Florida Stat. § 509.211, all enclosed spaces containing fuel-burning appliances (boilers, generators, engines) located in public lodging establishments with sleeping compartments (including houseboats, yachts, and hotels) must contain CO detectors.

These detectors must be tested regularly, listed as compliant, and integrated with the lodging establishment’s fire detection system.

Unfortunately, many companies attempt to skirt the law to save a buck, choosing profits over safety. If you or a loved one has suffered health issues or death due to carbon monoxide exposure, several entities may be responsible, including property owners, employers, maintenance and inspection companies, boat, generator or CO detector manufacturers, and boat or generator rental companies.

An experienced carbon monoxide poisoning lawyer will investigate all possibilities to determine what caused the carbon monoxide exposure and identify all parties responsible.

Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning may be eligible to recover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses
  • Income loss
  • Bereavement compensation

Laws governing boating accidents and commercial vessels can be complex. Fighting a manufacturer or maintenance company for compensation can be difficult without the experience of a leading carbon monoxide poisoning lawyer.

Our Florida based carbon monoxide poisoning lawyers have the experience necessary to expose company negligence, protect your rights and recover your financial losses.

Are you suffering from effects of carbon monoxide exposure, or have you lost a loved one to carbon monoxide exposure in a boat, home, hotel, workplace, or other location? Learn whether your situation qualifies you for financial compensation in a free, confidential case evaluation.

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