With a beautiful holiday weekend expected, many people plan to spend time on boats. But there's something you need to be careful of that most people don't associate with boating. It's not the dangers of drinking, but rather carbon monoxide poisoning.
"The way that carbon monoxide works is that it works in your bloodstream and it competes with oxygen for binding sites. So it basically pushes oxygen out of the way," says emergency room physician, Dr. Jeff Jarvis.
Each year, hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning. It can happen anywhere, even on the water in a wide open space.
"One of the things that we say in emergency medicine is the solution to pollution is dilution," says Jarvis.
He says symptoms include headaches, disorientation and nausea. It can seem like dehydration or even the flu at first.
"As the levels get higher and higher, you can start to have seizures, lethargy, coma, and eventually death," adds Jarvis.
Carbon monoxide can build up on a boat from a faulty exhaust system, a generator onboard or another boat's exhaust. According to the CDC, the rear of the boat is a gathering place for carbon monoxide gas.
The effects can take only minutes to sink in, in some cases. The treatment is oxygen.
"The best thing to do is get out of the environment, again, dilute that gas," says Jarvis.
You can reduce the risk by putting a carbon monoxide detector on your boat.