Carbon Monoxide

Stanley the Striped Bass wearing a gas mask near boat exhaustAbout the Gas

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can be fatal in high concentrations. Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion of carbon-based material such as gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal or wood. Common sources of carbon monoxide aboard boats are the main auxiliary engines, generators, cooking ranges, space heaters and water heaters.

Carbon monoxide can collect aboard boats in a variety of ways:

  • Exhaust leaks
  • Improperly vented appliances
  • Entry of exhaust into enclosed areas, most commonly due to mooring too close to a dock or another boat that obstructs the exhaust port
  • Entry into cabin compartments by prevailing wind conditions or back drafts

The Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) warns all boaters that carbon monoxide poisoning is an extremely dangerous matter that can result in serious injury or death. The DBW also advises all boaters to ensure that:

  • Exhaust systems are maintained
  • Appliances and accommodation spaces are vented
  • Swimming areas are monitored
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are installed in accommodation spaces

It is unlawful for boaters to ride on the swim platform of a boat or to participate in teak surfing or platform dragging.

Carbon Monoxide Law

Assembly Bill 2222 (Koretz) requires that a set of carbon monoxide warning stickers be placed on the transom and helm of all new and used motorized vessels sold in California beginning May 1, 2005.

The California Department of Boating and Waterways has coordinated with nationwide boating interests to develop a set of universal carbon monoxide decals. Boat manufacturers and dealers should order decals from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Decals are also available to order online from the Cal Boating website.

Visit the Department of Boating and Waterways website to learn more about carbon monoxide and for any updates or changes to the Carbon Monoxide Law.