Although not taking place on our boat, previous threads about non-vented appliances
on board prompt me to post this. I took a week off to go work on our small cottage located in the interior
of BC. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, and began work on our vaulted ceiling the following morning, installing pine over insulation/vapour barrier. I took the morning chill off using our 23,000 btu unvented kerosene heater, and installed pine most of the morning. The next day I got a call from my wife, and after a brief conversation, she told me to get out of the cabin
, and that something was wrong with me. After questioning me, she made me realize I didn't remember why I was at the cabin
, how I got there, how long I had been there, and why my wife wasn't there. I had no memory of other family
members who had been there, and when they left, about 6 hours before. I don't remember it, but I had told my wife that I had been "not feeling well" for the last couple of days, and repeated things over and over. There was some discussion about calling a neighbor or an ambulance, but I decided to sleep on it in another cabin, and see how I felt the next day. I was normal the next morning, and drove 6 hours home, and directly to the hospital. During the drive, most of my memories of the weekend began returning, and I remembered feeling nauseous several times during the weekend, and also remembered the heat from the heater being concentrated at the peak of the ceiling where I worked for at least a few hours. Blood tests showed no carbon monoxide, but they said it would have had time to disappear by the time I had the test.
We were unable to conclusively prove CO poisoning, but given the circumstances, very likely. ( I have no history
otherwise.) I found a CO alarm
for only $25, and I would conclude that using unvented appliances
on a boat to be very risky under most circumstances, but almost suicidal without the use of a carbon monoxide detector, given how cheap
they are. Any combustion appliance can produce fatal amounts of CO in a confined space such as a boat, and depleting the oxygen results in incomplete combustion and much higher levels of that odourless and toxic gas. Don't use unvented appliances, but if you do, please use a carbon monoxide detector.