With the sunny weather now here, it’s time for boat owners everywhere to start testing the water. Natasha Sabin from Island Fire Protection explains the importance of all those setting sail this summer taking the time to review their fire safety measures:
Though they aren’t as frequent as those on land, fires in boats tend to be particularly destructive. This is largely due to the fact that firefighters struggle to reach boats.
Access routes to boats tend to be narrow, making it difficult to fire fighters and reach the site.
Additionally, boat fires can begin in remote locations, where there is no (or poor) signal for mobile phones and few – if any- public payphones.
Both of these factors mean that boat fires have longer to burn and become uncontrollable before anyone starts tackling the blaze.
Make sure you track your location
It’s difficult enough for the fire and rescue service to access burning boats. The worst thing you can do is make it even harder by being in an unknown location.
By tracking your position, you make it easier for firefighters to reach you, and extinguish the fire sooner.
Have an escape plan
It’s always advisable to come up with two escape routes in case one door is blocked. Everybody should know what both of these routes are – if you can, rehearse them.
Due to difficulties faced by the fire and rescue service in gaining access to boat fires, you should always know how you’re going to contact them. Have a radio device at hand so that you can reach them
Check you have the right supplies
As a bare minimum, you should always have at least:
- One dry powder extinguisher – the only one you can use on engines
- A carbon monoxide alarm
- A smoke alarm
- A fire blanket
- A remote radio to contact fire services if you can’t get signal on your mobile
Automatic dry powder extinguishers for engine rooms are very popular. They help keep the fire at bay while you wait for the fire service to arrive.
If you already have these items, you need to make sure they are working. To check alarms, just press their button until you hear them beep. For most alarms, you should replace their batteries every year.
You should get your fire extinguishers checked by a qualified servicer before setting sail.
The best place to store an extinguisher is near doors on your escape route, where they will be noticed. Everybody on board should know how to use fire fighting tools, too.
Inspect your boat regularly
Before using your boat, make sure you check the fuel, gas, electrical and mechanical systems regularly.
Look out for heating damage, leakages, loose joints, spills, blockages and build ups.
Any problems you spot could cause a fire. So if you notice a problem, make sure it is repaired before you set sail.
Use appliances safely
Cooking appliances and heating devices are two of the top causes of fires in the UK. So when you’re sailing, make sure you use handle both with care. Here are some rules you should always follow:
- Never use appliances when moving
- Keep lose fabrics well away from sources of heat (stoves, heating)
- Make sure there is always plenty of ventilation to release carbon build ups
- Check that your devices are completely turned off
- Never BBQ on board
- Remove any potential blockages
- Avoid using a naked flame
If you have devices that use gas, always make sure that you replace gas canisters outdoors where there is plenty of ventilation. You should keep all windows on your boat closed during refills so that vapours don’t enter your vessel.