Boat on the lake

A Mother's Advocacy: Shedding Light on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Recreational Boating

In June 2020, the Free family endured an unimaginable tragedy – the loss of their son, Andrew (Andy) Brady Free. Andy died from the silent killer – carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – while enjoying a day on the lake. This harrowing experience transformed Cassi's grief into an unwavering mission to raise awareness about the often-overlooked dangers of CO poisoning in recreational boating.

Understanding the Invisible Threat

Carbon monoxide, an invisible and odorless gas, poses a lethal threat in the boating environment. Produced by engines, generators, and other fuel-burning appliances, CO can accumulate in and around inadequately ventilated vessels or when engines idle for extended periods, creating a significant hazard for those on board. Alarmingly, from 2005 to 2018, there were 78 known deaths due to CO poisoning in the United States following the use of recreational watercraft, and this number could be even higher due to misattributed causes of death.[1]

Advocacy and Awareness

Driven by the hope that "no mother will stand… wondering why she didn't know," Cassi initiated both legislative advocacy and public awareness campaigns. These efforts aim to prevent future tragedies and educate the boating community about the risks of CO poisoning.

On May 15, 2023, Andy’s Law (House Bill 2010) was signed into Oklahoma law, requiring a CO monoxide warning sticker on motorized boats operating in Oklahoma waters.

In addition to her legislative successes, Cassi partnered with marine safety organizations to create CO warning signs to be posted near launch points. This initiative was designed to educate the boating community about the inherent risks of CO poisoning, symptoms, and the importance of CO detectors.

Moving Forward: A Legacy of Hope and Safety

Cassi's story underscores a critical issue that demands greater attention and action. As she looks ahead, her mission remains clear: to prevent other families from enduring the same heartache her family experienced.

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For more information on carbon monoxide safety in boating or to support Cassi's advocacy efforts, please visit www.thelittledude.org.

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