Stafford, VA – A carbon monoxide scare aboard a boat in Maryland’s waters has prompted local public-safety officials to remind the public of its very real danger.

Late last month, four people aboard a boat experienced symptoms related to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Lt. Kimberly Harper of Stafford’s fire-rescue department.

The boat was near King George at an Aquapalooza event, anchored with 13 other boats at the July 30 event. All of the boats were using generators, she noted.

On the boat was a carbon monoxide detector that read 360 parts per million.

The base safe limits are 50 parts per million, the fire-rescue department reported.

After the boat left its site, it headed to Hope Springs Marina in Stafford. When fire-rescue units arrived, they took another reading, which was then at four parts per million.

The individuals experiencing symptoms were transported to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg for evaluation after the boat left the event.

Stafford’s fire-rescue department reminds area residents that carbon monoxide has no odor and is not visible. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up from any fuel-burning appliance or equipment if it isn’t working properly or if the chemical that is produced isn’t conducted safely to the outside.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 656 people died from unintentional non-fire gas poisonings in 2001, and most of those deaths involved carbon monoxide. The NFPA strongly recommends that every home be protected by at least one carbon monoxide detector, which can alert homeowners to dangerous levels in their homes in time to prevent poisoning.

Cooking and heating equipment, motor vehicles in attached garages, portable electric generators, camp stoves and lanterns can be dangerous if not used properly, according to the association.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including severe headaches, dizziness and nausea, can be similar to flu or food-poisoning symptoms.

Check out the following tips, courtesy of Stafford’s fire-rescue department:

– Install at least one carbon monoxide detector near a sleeping area; test it every month and learn the sound of the alarm.

– Have heating equipment inspected each year to identify damage or malfunction; make repairs as needed.

– Open the flue before using the fireplace.

– If you use a kerosene or gas heater, open a window slightly when the heater is in use.

– Use equipment properly; never use an oven to heat a room and never bring BBQ grills indoors or into a garage or covered porch.

– Generators must be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas, never inside the home or garage.

– Always move vehicles out of the garage after starting the ignition and then close the door.

– Don’t allow snow or anything else to block the vents for your dryer, stove or heating equipment.