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September 2010

Prepare & prevent

Protect yourself from onboard fires

Though relatively rare, onboard fires can be devastating.

Fiberglass and wood, the main components of most recreational boats, make excellent fuel. When combined with the highly flammable accelerants in fuel tanks, they make for a potentially dangerous situation whenever there’s an open flame on board. Prevention and preparedness are the two keys to fire safety aboard any boat.

Prevention includes ensuring that your vessel is as fireproof as possible:

  • Clean flame arrestors.
  • Clean bilges.
  • Inspect wiring frequently.
  • Store propane tanks safely.
  • Mount and use barbecue grills safely.
  • Ensure adequate space around ranges and burners in galley.
  • Inspect fuel lines and filters regularly.
  • Handle and dispose of smoking materials safely.

Preparedness means having an adequate number of functioning, accessible fire extinguishers on board and knowing how to use them. At minimum, fire extinguishers should be mounted for easy access in the following areas:

  • engine compartment
  • galley
  • sleeping quarters
  • helm station
  • near barbecue grills

Depending on your boat’s configuration and size, one fire extinguisher may serve more than one critical area. As you consider mounting locations, think about where a fire is likely to occur relative to where people are. You don’t want to have to reach across the fire to grab the extinguisher.

Ship's Store ad for USPS chubby coolers

Double sheet bend

The double sheet bend is recommended for joining slick, thick or stiff ropes or lines. Doubling the turns makes the knot more resistant to slipping and provides extra holding power.

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