For anyone using an RV, boat, or travel trailer, the potential for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a real threat. CO is odorless and tasteless, and the symptoms can easily overcome someone without warning, especially in small spaces. CO is produced by gas and diesel motors, generators, space heaters, hot water heaters, stoves and ovens, and even charcoal grills. Anything that uses fossil fuel (diesel, gasoline, propane, kerosene, oil, wood, charcoal, etc.) will produce dangerous carbon monoxide.
When it comes to CO accumulation, RV and boat owners must remain aware at all times, particularly when stationary or parked in close proximity to others. Carbon monoxide can also accumulate when boats are moving at slow speeds and engaging in towing activities such as tubing, water skiing, or wake surfing. In RV parks, CO from neighboring RV's and camps can enter through open windows and doors, creating unsafe conditions inside your RV or trailer.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics for 2019 revealed 31 reported CO poisonings related to boating, including five deaths. By 2000, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Coast Guard identified over 800 CO poisonings across 35 states related to boating, with more than 140 resulting in death. More than a third of the events occurred on houseboats and one-quarter of those were attributed to generator exhaust.