Boat safety is a priority in Dorset and Wiltshire, as hundreds of people live and work on our waterways, in addition to the thousands of visitors who come each year to enjoy a peaceful holiday in our seaside towns or aboard a narrowboat.
In the past 20 years, national figures show that more than 60 boaters have been killed as a result of a boat fire or carbon monoxide incident. CO poisoning is most likely to be caused by the exhaust emissions of portable generators, or problems with solid fuel stoves including flue pipes. Click here for a useful advice leaflet.
Although boat fires on inland waters are less common than fires on land, when they do occur, they can have devastating consequences. Boats are often in remote locations with difficult access, which may result in firefighters taking longer to arrive at an incident and allowing a fire to totally destroy a boat and everything on-board.
- Fit a suitable smoke detector.
- Make a fire action plan.
- Take extreme care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders.
- Avoid using portable gas equipment on-board, where possible, and store all gas canisters in special gas lockers or open places where any leaks will flow overboard.
- Check items such as battery terminals and fuse box connections routinely for damaged strands or signs of overheating.
- Take care when doing repairs, and keep interiors well ventilated when using adhesives, paints and spirit based products.
- Always keep your eye on a solid fuel stove when it’s lit and try to avoid leaving the boat with the stove running.
- Never keep fabrics, soft furnishings or piles of paper next to a woodburning stove.
- If you smell gas, turn off the isolation valve and open windows, hatches and doors. Turn off the engine and put out all naked flames, including pilot lights. Evacuate the boat if possible and call for help.
- Never decant fuel on board, in a lock or near other craft. Refuel outboard tanks ashore and well away from the boat.
- Make sure you always know exactly where you are in case you have to call the emergency services.
Free safety advice
People who live and work on the Kennet & Avon Canal can access free boat safety packs. These can be collected from wharfs and marinas along the canal, by calling 0800 038 2323, or visiting one of the following fire stations:
- Bradford on Avon – Monday evenings, 7pm to 9pm
- Devizes – Wednesday evenings, 7.15pm to 8.45pm
- Pewsey – Monday evenings, 7pm to 9pm
- Trowbridge – Monday evenings, 7pm to 9.30pm
Our Safe & Well visits also include people who live on boats – click here to request a visit.
The Fire Kills campaign has produced a handy leaflet on Boat Safety
For further information about general boat fire and CO safety, visit www.boatsafetyscheme.org/stay-safe
For broader safety advice, visit the Maritime & Coastguard Agency website www.gov.uk/government/organisations/maritime-and-coastguard-agency and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution www.rnli.org