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boat on waterway

Boat safety

Top tips for boaters

  • The risk of an explosion is one of the greatest fire hazards faced by boaters. Fit a gas and petrol vapour detector alarm in the bilge and cabin spaces to give you early warnings of dangerous build ups of explosive gases
  • Learn how to safely isolate the electrical, fuel, and LPG installations in the event of a fire or gas leak
  • Check that all appliances are turned off and, if possible, close the valve on the LPG cylinders before you go to bed or leave the boat. Make sure all gas or liquid fuelled heating, refrigeration, or cooking appliances are properly secured to prevent them from overturning
  • Don’t over bank solid fuel stoves overnight
  • Make a fire escape plan with everyone on the boat. Keep all escape routes totally clear 
  • For each sleeping position, plan the best escape route and, if possible, identify a second way out. If the routes are windows or roof hatches, make sure they are big enough and that they open with ease. If they don’t, provide a means to break the glass such as a small hammer. Footholds, ladders or other means of climbing out of the nominated roof hatches must be quickly and easily accessible
  • Don’t lock cabin doors or hatches using padlocks on the outside
  • Fire extinguishers should be sited where they can be at hand to help you escape 
  • Ensure the correct fire extinguishers are fitted
  • Regularly remove rubbish, oil, and debris from all areas, especially the bilge. Discard oily waste responsibly
  • Create a safe store for goods such as diesel, coal, charcoal, wood paint, solvents, adhesives or paraffin, and ensure container lids are tight
  • Make sure all materials, i.e. upholstery, soft furnishings, thermal insulation, and galley surfaces are fire retardant
  • Take note of nearby landmarks that may help you identify your location in an emergency

In the event of a fire

  • Get everybody off the boat as quickly as possible
  • Call the fire service – we’ll need your location (use landmarks if you can) 
  • Turn off all gas cylinders valves and close any fuel system valves that are safe to reach. Better still, disconnect and remove the cylinder to a safe place. If you really have to, drop it over the side of the boat
  • Warn the occupants of adjacent craft, the harbour, navigation, and marina staff as appropriate. 

The Boat Safety Scheme website offers further information on boat safety. They have produced a comprehensive guide which includes the boat owner’s responsibilities for keeping their boat safe.