According to the USCG, in 2009, there were 5 deaths, approx. 130 injuries and over $12,557,513 in damages from boat related fires in the United States. Fires can spread rapidly on a vessel and it is always best to be prepared for any fire-related situation. Here are some safety tips from the Seattle Fire Department:
- Use Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) marine-approved cord sets and connections. Do no hook up if you see burn marks or your cord set will not firmly connect.
- Routinely replace cord sets. Worn or overloaded cord sets and damaged shore power connections are a common cause of fires.
- Regularly inspect electrical and fuel systems. Have a professional upgrade the wiring to maintain the needs of your navigational equipment and other appliances.
- Never leave operating electrical equipment, including heaters, unattended. When leaving your boat for any reason, turn portable heaters off.
- Smoke alarms are important life-saving devices and should be installed in your boat.
- Plan your escape. Having an escape plan can save your life in an emergency.
- Have a U.S.C.G. approved fire extinguisher onboard and know how to use it. Fire extinguishers should be mounted near an exit so you are moving toward an exit as you access the extinguisher.
- Do your part to keep the dock clean and clear. Don’t leave engine parts, tools or other equipment on the dock.
- Properly dispose of oily rags in metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Leaving oily rags wrapped up in a grocery sack is not safe. The chemicals will begin to breakdown the rags, causing heat and possibly a fire.
- Boat owners must take responsibility for preventing fires on their boats and in the marina. The most common causes of boat fires are: electrical malfunctions, unattended portable heaters and poor housekeeping.