Attorney Patrick Bailey Warns of Summertime Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Especially for Boaters

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Throughout the nation, temperatures have started to rise as summer approaches. Along with a rise in temperatures comes a rise in the risks related to carbon monoxide poisoning, Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Patrick Bailey says.

While it is true that heaters are often the source of carbon monoxide in wintertime, the public needs to be reminded that many summertime activities also carry significant risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

From the unofficial start of the summer on Memorial Day to the unofficial end on Labor Day, millions of Americans will take summer vacations, embark on long road trips, enjoy the nation's lakes and waterways, host BBQs and take advantage of longer periods of sunshine. Temperatures will be warm and opportunities for leisure and adventure will be plentiful. But in the midst of all the amusement there lies an invisible threat: carbon monoxide poisoning.

Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Patrick Bailey of Bailey & Partners has handled multiple carbon monoxide poisoning cases in which his clients suffered permanent brain damage and other injuries as the result of exposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Bailey cautions that "many people are not aware of any of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. But even if they are aware of the threat, many consider carbon monoxide poisoning a wintertime risk. While it is true that heaters are often the source of carbon monoxide in wintertime, the public needs to be reminded that many summertime activities also carry significant risk of carbon monoxide poisoning."

Some of the risks in the summer include charcoal burning BBQs that can be deadly if they are not used in areas with proper ventilation; portable generators, lanterns, lawn mowers and other engines and equipment that use fossil fuels; and, perhaps most dangerous, watercraft and boat engines.

"Boats, including houseboats and other gas powered watercraft, are particularly dangerous. Being outside may offer a false sense of safety. But especially on popular holidays and weekends during the summer, a lake or river may be crowded with thousands of boats, jet skis and similar watercraft. Many of them may be clustered together for a festive atmosphere. But idling boats can create a dangerous concentration of carbon monoxide. When alcohol is involved, the dangers can be exacerbated," Bailey cautions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CO from a boat will hover near the back end of the boat and "float" just above the surface of the water. Swimmers and water skiers may become exposed to concentrated levels of the toxic gas within a matter of seconds. A victim may become incapacitated as a result of CO exposure. Though they may suffer as a direct result of the toxic gas, they may also succumb to secondary injuries if drowning results from carbon monoxide-induced incapacitation.

"Because it has no smell or color, it is an invisible threat and may 'sneak' up on a victim," Bailey says. "People in the water are at risk but so are people inside the boat as CO builds up near the surface and exposes everyone in the vicinity to danger. On houseboats, the threat may be even worse because the cabins may be enclosed and the boat may have a power generator contributing to the CO build-up. Houseboats often run a generator to power air conditioners and electronic devices. This can lead to even more CO buildup in and around the boat."

Bailey wants the public to be aware of all the threats related to CO poisoning because "treatment for CO poisoning can be extremely complex and require long-term care. For a victim of CO poisoning, heart problems, memory loss, cognitive impairment, lack of coordination, and blurred vision, for instance, may be permanent. While excellent medical treatment is available and compensation may be obtained if CO exposure was caused by negligence, preventing CO poisoning is the goal for all safety advocates."

Bailey suggests reviewing the CDC's "Prevention Guidance" information sheet for general tips. For more specific suggestions for ensuring safety while boating, he recommends the United States Coast Guard's Boating Safety Resource Center.

"Even in ideal circumstances, CO can build up around a boat and cause serious harm. But if an engine is defective, if a ventilation system is not operating properly, or a boat operator fails in their duty to ensure safety, tragedy becomes even more probable. Unfortunately, tragedy is likely to strike this summer. When it does, Bailey & Partners will be on the side of victims' families and we will continue raising awareness about the dangers associated with carbon monoxide."

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Betsy Passarelli
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