Go boating – Stay safe
Avoiding Fire Afloat
Make a fire action plan
You can make the difference between safe escape and disaster – for
you and your crew – by being prepared and making a fire action plan.
• Make sure that you know your boat and make a fire action plan with
everyone in the boat.
• For each sleeping position plan the best escape route and, if possible
identify a second way out. If the routes are windows or roof-hatches,
make sure they’re big enough (see BSS Guide part 6) and that they
open fully with ease. If they don’t, provide a means to break the glass
such as a small hammer. Footholds, ladders or other means of
climbing out of the nominated roof-hatches must be quickly and
• Fire extinguishers should be sited where they can be at hand to help
• Know how to safely isolate the electrical, fuel and LPG installations in
the event of a fire or gas leak.
You’ve done that, so now
• Keep all escape routes totally clear.
• Don’t lock cabin doors or hatches using padlocks on the outside.
• Take note of nearby landmarks that may help identify your location
in an emergency.
• Check that all appliances are turned off and if possible, close the valve
on the LPG cylinders before you go to bed or leave the boat.
• If you must use candles, place them upright, in suitable, stable holders;
out of draughts and away from curtains and furnishings. Never leave a
burning candle unattended. Make sure they are put out safely.
• Keep candles, matches, lighters and other sources of flame out of reach
of children. Use only safety matches, vibration can ignite other types.
• Make sure cigarettes are put out safely – use metal ashtrays. Avoid
falling asleep with a lit cigarette – never smoke in bed.
• Never leave a hot hob unattended especially when cooking with oil or fat.
• Don’t fit curtains or fabrics over hob burners and don’t dry tea towels
or clothes over a cooker or hob.
• Don’t over-bank solid fuel stoves overnight.
Maintenance for safety
• Practice ‘good housekeeping’ in order to reduce fire hazards. Regularly
remove rubbish, oil and debris from all areas, especially the bilge.
Discard oily waste responsibly.
• Create a safe store for goods such as diesel, coal, charcoal, wood, paint,
solvents, adhesives or paraffin and ensure container lids are tight.
• If you’re choosing fabrics, GRP matting, resins, foam etc. for making changes
to your boat i.e. upholstery fabrics, soft furnishings, foams, thermal
insulation, lockers and galley surfaces, ask your supplier for assurances
about their fire resistant qualities. Their fire resistance could be crucial.
What’s more, you may consider…
… fitting a smoke alarm that meets British Standard BS5446 Part 1 and
carries an approval mark such as the ‘Kitemark’.
… fitting a gas and petrol vapour detector alarm in the bilge and even in
the cabin space to give you early warnings of dangerous build-ups of
… fitting a suitable automatic fixed fire-extinguishing system for the
engine compartment (Note: Halon is now banned internationally as an
extinguishing medium. It must be replaced).