Boat fires are a seldom but costly occurrence; with 239 recreational boat fires reported in 2008 with over $24 million in losses reported. Accessories like microwaves, heaters, blenders and other electrical appliances make boating life easier, but can also become a fire hazard. In the cooler months, it’s a common mistake to leave these things, like heaters unattended. According to BOATUS statistics most fires occur near the shore power line.
Follow these simple steps to prevent a fire, in addition to the safety precautions on your appliances.
- Check electrical cords for exposed, frayed or rusted wiring; ensuring they are all UL approved cords.
- Remember to turn off electric heaters upon exiting the boat.
- Inspect electrical and fuel systems for hazards.
- Make sure your fire extinguishers are up to code and keep multiple in different locations, depending on the size of your boat.
- Dispose of all flammable solutions or products properly, never leaving them next to combustible items or the engine.
- Check your smoke detectors and routinely replace batteries.
- Lastly, create an escape plan and practice it at night. It’s always good to know the exit route in case of trouble.
There are other things to watch for to prevent a boat fire. Bad refueling techniques and overheated engines/outboards are among them. The most important thing you can do is to practice prevention and preparation; since emergency response time on the water will likely be delayed.