Carbon Monoxide -THAT SILENT KILLER- Finds Yet Another Way To Kill: Coast Guard warns public of dangers associated with: “Teak Surfing”

SAFETY ALERT: The United States Coast Guard advises boaters not to “Teak Surf.” Recent boating fatalities revealed that carbon monoxide [CO] emitted from a vessel’s exhaust resulted in CO poisoning and the death of teak surfers. “Teak Surfing” places the individual in position directly exposed to the CO in the engine’s exhaust. This may result in a loss of coherent responses and even death. In addition, “Teak Surfing” dangerously exposes the individual to a possible propeller injury, and since it is done without a life jacket [PFD], it significantly increases the probability of drowning. Therefore, the Coast Guard stresses, “Teak Surfing” is a very dangerous activity and advises boaters not to participate in it.

BACKGROUND: “TEAK SURFING”/ITS DANGERS: The Coast Guard noted that carbon monoxide has found a new venue to ply its silent but deadly means: “Teak Surfing.” This is a new and dangerous boating fad that involves an individual holding on to the teak swim platform of a vessel while a wake builds up then lets go to body surf the wave created by the boat; hence the term- “Teak Surfing.”

Captain Scott Evans-Chief of the Office of Boating Safety, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters- pointed out, “Because of the multiple dangers associated with “teak surfing” and the carbon monoxide problem in particular, the Coast Guard issued this alert that strongly advises the public not to engage in “Teak Surfing” and warns that “Teak Surfing” may cause carbon monoxide poisoning and even fatalities.”

“Besides carbon monoxide poisoning, Evans emphasized, two other dangerous factors are associated with “Teak Surfing. It exposes an individual unnecessarily and dangerously to a boat’s propeller, and this is compounded by the failure to wear a lifejacket.”

“Teak Surfing” requires that an individual hold on to the swim platform of a vessel that is underway while it builds up a wake on which he or she can body surf,” explained Evans. “This puts that individual directly in the path of the vessel’s exhaust and poisonous external carbon monoxide. If that in itself is not dangerous enough, the individual is now in a position that a slight miscalculation may throw him or her into a whirling propeller. Still … it doesn’t stop there. In order to “Teak Surf” you don’t wear a life jacket, the two do not go together. As is easily seen, all this is a recipe for a tragedy. A tragedy that the Coast Guard wants to see averted; that is why we are issuing this warning.”

THE COAST GUARD AND CO: Evans noted. “The Coast Guard, along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], other researchers, and the states, are actively investigating carbon monoxide and the dangers this silent killer brings to the marine environment and recreational boating. Recent information revealed that carbon monoxide exposure is a threat not only inside the boat, but outside the boat as well. A NIOSH investigation linked external carbon monoxide to houseboats with a design flaw that vented generator exhaust into a an enclosed space near the stern swim platform, resulting in external carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths at Lake Powell, Arizona. Once this link was established, the Coast Guard immediately initiated a recall of the affected houseboats. Today, the Coast Guard, NIOSH and the states are continuing to investigate exhaust problems in order to identify the most optimal manner for dealing with them.”

Evans stressed, “Both on land and at sea, carbon monoxide is not to be tempted. Researchers have found CO danger to persons sitting on or near a swim deck. That is why we cannot stress enough that you protect yourself and avoid activities such as “Teak Surfing”, since it places you directly in the path of carbon monoxide’s lethal tentacles.”

For more information, visit the U.S. Coast Guard website, UNITED STATES COAST GUARD Headquarters Public Affairs Washington, DC 20593

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday August 2, 2001