Boating is a fun and relaxing excursion for a lover of the sea and open water. Boats are constructed differently from buildings, so they pose different fire risks compared with the latter. With minimal safety standards applied, the risk of a boat fire can be significantly minimised. Nonetheless, because escape is much more difficult, adequate preparedness is the best weapon against potentially fatal fires. Read on for tips to prevent fire and mitigate damage in case there is one.
- Fit a smoke alarm within all cabins, as well as galleries of much larger boats. You should go for the battery-powered alarms, which are easy to fit and have minimal maintenance requirements.
- Pass your electrical wiring looms through secured conduits to avoid chafing as the boat moves, resulting in an electrical fire once the insulation is worn. Take boat movement into account when wiring. Remember that wiring should only be done by qualified electricians.
- Install furniture and soft furnishings that are fire-retardant. These include seats and linings. When buying, confirm that the furniture has flame-resistant properties.
- Use safety matches as vibrations from the boat could cause non-safety matches to self-ignite.
- Cleaning agents, solvents, lubricating oils and other potentially flammable liquids should be stored upright in tightly sealed containers and secured to avoid toppling. Battery boxes should also be secured and stored in a ventilated storage area.
- Powered recreational vessels (i.e. with engines) should have portable fire extinguishers, whose number depends on size of boat. These should be of the dry chemical type i.e. dry powder or carbon dioxide – ideal for electrical fires. Foam extinguishers may be used for liquid fires as a result of hydrocarbons. Place at least two in secured brackets close to cabin exits. You should also have fire blankets in vessels where cooing takes place in an enclosed area, since foam extinguishers are not advisable for cooking fires. A fire blanket in the gallery area is also advisable.
- Install buckets with lanyard so that water can be carried into the vessel to put out plastic, wood and paper fires. The lanyard should be long enough to reach the water, and the bucket should be small enough to allow hoisting over the vessel's side when filled with water.
- Use automatic fire extinguishers in engine compartments, installed adjacent to the engine. It should be fitted with a heat-sensitive sprinkler which will be triggered in case of fire from the engine. You can use chemical dry powder or clean agent extinguishers – the latter is preferable since it doesn't leave any residues.
- Have a carbon monoxide detector close to the sleeping cabins to warn about CO-buildup. Some burning appliances and heaters produce carbon monoxide, which can accumulate in non-vented areas of the vessel.
- Carry extra fuel in approved containers and only when absolutely necessary. Ensure they are properly secured to prevent spillage and installed on the upper deck where fumes can escape into the atmosphere.
For additional info, contact professionals near you.