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Carbon monoxide alarms could soon be mandatory for boats on the Broads

PUBLISHED: 15:47 31 August 2018

Emergency services at the scene of a carbon monoxide boating disaster near Wroxham in 2016 Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Emergency services at the scene of a carbon monoxide boating disaster near Wroxham in 2016 Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Mandatory carbon monoxide alarms on boats would be a life-saving initiative, according to the head of safety at the Broads Authority.

The body behind the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is currently looking at rolling out the scheme, making it compulsory for vessels with accommodation using the Broads to be equipped with the alarms.

It comes just months after six people were taken to hospital after being exposed to the gas aboard a cruiser in Somerleyton.

Steve Birtles, head of safety management at the BA, said the measure would prove life-saving if it was successfully brought in.

He said: “Carbon monoxide is let out from petrol engine exhausts, particularly on larger vessels, and if it finds its way into the cabins can come with a serious risk of death.

“The big issue with carbon monoxide is it is odourless and tasteless - without alarms there are no real signs that it is there.”

A consultation has started into the measure, which - if introduced - would make it mandatory for boats to be fitted with the alarms from January 1, 2019.

Mr Birtles though, said it was also important people were made aware of the early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning to help avoid tragedy.

In 2016, 64-year-old Alan Frost and 51-year-old Tina Wilkins died from the poisoning while moored on the River Bure near Wroxham - two of 30 deaths from the cause in the past two decades nationally.

Mr Birtles said: “The people in Somerleyton in June recognised the early signs, however, others have not so even with alarms we need to raise awareness of the symptoms.

“The most clear signs are feelings of nausea, dizziness and confusion, along with headaches.”

Members of the Broads Authority’s navigation committee will be asked to give their support to the move at a meeting next Thursday.

Mr Birtles’ report to the committee estimates that if the measure is brought in nationally, it could reduce carbon monoxide-related boat fatalities to one every 10 years.

The consultation - found on the Boat Safety Scheme website - closes on Friday, November 9.

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