Simple tips to prevent fires onboard

Posted by: Pen Marine

Here are a few things to keep in mind for safer boating

Fires account for a very small percentage of accidents and deaths for pleasure boaters. Regardless, this is no reason to let our guard down. Even a small fire can get out of hand very quickly, so preparations to prevent any scenario where it can start is the best way to be safe. In the unfortunate event that a fire still happens, the best thing then is to have the knowledge to fight it.

Let’s look at the common causes of fires, and how they can be easily prevented.

Galley cookers. As you know the galley is the kitchen on a boat, and fires are essential for cooking. Pleasure crafts easily can swap out butane or propane cookers for induction or electric ones to eliminate the possibility of gas leaks entirely.

However, if you must have a gas cooker, then make it a practice to turn off the valves at the gas tank and the cooker everytime they are not in use, and give their tubing a check regularly to make sure there are no leaks. Never leave any cooker with a live flame unattended.

Smoking below decks. The most comfortable bits of a boat are also flammable, so we highly discourage lighting up below decks as an accident or an errant wave can start a flame easily.

Faulty wiring. Always have any electrical systems or wiring on board done by a professional, and have the wiring checked annually as well. Not only does this prevent flames from sparking, it also ensures all your systems are perfect working condition.

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Fuel vapours in the engine bay. For yachts with inboard engines, fuel vapours can sometimes fill the engine bay, resulting in a small explosion when the engine is started. That’s why it’s a good practice to vent the engine bay every time prior to a start.

Next, here are some seemingly mundane, but also important, best practices to follow.

Fit in gas and smoke detectors. These detectors will give you a headstart in fighting the fire, or prevent it entirely if you know there’s gas present in the area. Service them at the intervals prescribed.

Have more than the prescribed number of fire extinguishers and blankets. All boats have a minimum requirement when it comes to these items. We recommend you have more on yours if space allows, so that it is quickly available in the case of emergencies. Keep the extinguishers serviced regularly as well, and learn to use them properly.

Always stow away loose items. Leaving loose items around above or below decks is a definite way to cause accidents. Keep them in their compartments whenever they are not in use.

These simple steps will definitely make your boating experience better. A fire onboard is an experience that we hope you never go through, so keep these in mind for a safer boating experience!