Ever wondered what you should do if a boat motor catches fire? Read on to discover the immediate steps that you should take in the event that a fire takes place.
There are many common causes of boating fires and this is actually far more prevalent than the vast majority of people would believe. It is easy to assume that boat motors remain cool due to water-aspect but they’re actually prone to fires as this is where the ignition source and fuel are more likely to come into contact with one another.
If a boat motor catches fire, you should move all passengers as far away from the fire as possible and are dressed in life jackets in case you need to go overboard. The engine should be switched off immediately to cut off the supply of fuel.
Then, take the marina fire extinguisher and start spraying it in a sweeping motion (you should always refrain from using water to put out a fuel based or electrical fire). Take a marine fire blanket to suffocate the oxygen supply of a small fire if you are missing an extinguisher.
Next, call for help using flares if necessary (ensure that you are away from the fire itself when you set these off). If the fire has become out of control then you should jump overboard and swim to the nearest shore or life raft.
It’s absolutely crucial to know these vital steps and implement them if the motor on your boat does catch fire and you should be aware of these in advance. You should also take every precautionary measure possible in order to minimize the chance of a fire occurring at all.
What Can I Do To Prevent A Fire?
There are different types of fire that can occur on a boat and the most common of these are fires that have derived from combustibles like plastic, paper etc, fires that are caused by flammable gases and liquids like oil or fuel or electrical fires that are caused by faulty circuit breakers or live wires.
It is also important to note that the type of fire extinguisher that should be used also depends on the type of fire that has occurred. This is because different extinguishers will use different substances in order to extinguish a fire.
An extinguisher that uses water, for instance, will not be suitable to exterminate an electrical fire, so it is best to ensure that all of these types of extinguishers are available.
Ensure That You Have The Right Equipment/Gear
As well as being necessarily equipped with the right fire extinguishers, you should also ensure that you have the right protective gear.
All passengers should be accommodated with a personal flotation device and your boat needs to be equipped with fire alarms, some detectors and carbon monoxide alarms alongside a fully equipped first aid kit.
You should also ensure that you have fully functioning emergency communication equipment on board including flares and a working radio.
Inform Your Passengers Of The Safety Procedures Before You Launch
Before you set sail, ensure that all of your passengers are well aware of safety instructions and what to do in the event of a fire. You should ensure that they know where to access their individual flotation devices and explain how they should disembark in a safe manner in a wide range of situations.
Further Preventative Measures That You Can Take
There are a few more ways that you can prevent a boat fire. These include maintaining the fuel system and ensuring that your boat’s engine is taken care of. You should also inspect any bilges in order to keep them clean and should avoid mixing oxygen, fuel and heat in high levels of concentration.
You should ensure that you also have a working ventilation system properly installed and inspect it to ensure that it is in fact working properly. Remain vigilant and turn off any appliances that are not in use and always check your boat fully prior to sleeping.
What To Do When You First Detect A Fire?
If your boat’s engine is running then you should ensure that it is turned off immediately. This will ensure that the boat does not explode. You should also switch off the fuel supply immediately. Your boat should ideally have a safety mechanism in place in order to allow you to take these measures instantly.
It is entirely possible that the fuel lines have been corrupted by the fire which may cause any fuel to leak and this could cause an explosion, rapidly. If your boat always contains gas cylinders, ensure that these are also turned off at the nozzle as these can also be highly flammable.
What Should You Do If A Fire Starts In The Front Of The Boat?
Once you have turned off the fuel supply and your boat’s engine, you should then try to identify what has caused the fire and the best thing to do is to ensure that the boat’s stem is facing into the wind direction.
This wind will ensure that the fire is unable to spread to the rest of the boat by slowing down the fire and you can also then exit through the rear of your boat.
What Should You Do If The Fire Starts At The Back Of The Boat?
Alternatively, if the fire has started at the back of the boat, you should position the boat so that it is facing into the wind direction as much as possible.
This wind will ensure that the flames are kept at the back of the boat and will ensure that the smoke doesn’t spread as readily across the boat. You should then exit the vessel via the front of the boat.
What Should You Do If You Do Not Have A Fire Extinguisher?
If you do not have access to a fire extinguisher, then you should use a fire blanket or an alternate form of heavy cover in order to suffocate the flames and block any supply of oxygen. This is the best option for smaller fires, however, if you don’t have any access to a fire blanket either then you should just go overboard and evacuate immediately.
To conclude, you should ensure that you have a variety of fire extinguishers on board in order to suffocate any flames and prevent the spread of the fire across the vessel. You should also ensure that all of your passengers have been well prepared about the emergency procedures and what to do in the event that a fire breaks out.
It is essential to ensure that you have a contingency plan in place in order to keep your passengers safe. Do not use water on an electrical fire as this may lead to an explosion and always ensure that your engine and fuel supply are turned off as soon as you detect that a fire has broken out.
The preventative structures that you put in place will only further enhance yours and your passengers’ safety and you should make sure that your boat is maintained with a high level of efficiency and is cleaned on a regular basis to ensure that combustible materials are removed.
Try not to overwork your boat’s engine if it is old and if it is an older model, then try to replace your engine when it is needed. Whilst this may be a costly process, it is well worth it as it will ensure that your boat is not burnt and damaged completely.
You should also make sure that you have flotation devices on board (like lifejackets) in order to reassure your passengers and allow them to go overboard in the event of a fire. It is also important to note that carbon dioxide or foam fire extinguishers are the best type of extinguishers to use in order to defeat a wide range of fires and prevent the spread of the flames across the vessel.
You should always ensure that you have checked your boat entirely prior to sleeping and that you remain vigilant at all times, stocking up on emergency communication essentials such as flares and radio devices.
It is better to be overly cautious than to be caught out ill-prepared and your heightened understanding of fire safety measures will only serve to put your mind at ease whilst you enjoy all of the wonders that the water has to offer.
Sail away with peace of mind and know that your destiny is in your own capable hands by implementing these necessary measures, ensuring that you can enjoy every single second of your boat trip without sailing into disaster!
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