November 2012

Fill 'er up!

Steer clear of fuel foul-ups

Fill 'er up!

Help keep the marine environment clean by ensuring fuel goes only in your boat’s tank and not in the water. Fuel can drip from the nozzle, splash back out of the tank, or discharge from the vent because of over-filling or expansion.

A small amount of spilled fuel can spread a film or sheen over a large area of water. Even after the sheen is gone, fuel kills fish and other aquatic life, causing long-term damage.

If you experience a spill, report it to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center by calling 800-424-8802 or 202-267-2675.

Follow these rules to avoid spills and accidents when fueling your vessel:

  • Fill jerry cans or portable fuel tanks ashore to stop dangerous fumes from building up on your deck and around your boat.
  • Before fueling inboard tanks, close all hatches and other openings to prevent fumes from getting into interior spaces.
  • To avoid air locks and sudden spills, be sure your boat is level. Put passengers ashore, or level your trailer if refueling at a service station.
  • Have a fire extinguisher within reach. Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials. Turn off engines and electrical equipment, including radios, stoves and other appliances. Never use a cell phone when fueling; static electricity can create a spark.
  • Do not rely on hands-free or automatic shut-off features. Attend to the nozzle at all times, and never fill your fuel tank to the top. Fuel expands as it warms, so leave room for this expansion to avoid leaking fuel into the water.
  • If you have a metal fuel tank, maintain nozzle contact with the fill pipe to prevent spills and static sparks. Hold an absorbent sheet under the nozzle to catch drips, and wipe up any spills. After fueling, secure the filler cap.

Before you start the engine, run the blower for at least four minutes, and check the bilge for fuel vapors. Open all ports, hatches and doors to ventilate. Do the sniff test: If you smell a gasoline odor, don’t start the engine. Instead, continue ventilating, and check for possible leaks. U.S. Coast Guard



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