Now that summer is officially here, boating season is underway for many here in Fort Lauderdale. Not only does that mean more boats along Florida’s waterways, but also more people, making safety a number-one factor.
In light of a fire that sent a boat ablaze this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, here are a few things boaters can do to keep fires away on the water this summer.
Know Your Fire Extinguishers
When it comes to a blaze, a fire extinguisher could be the most important piece of life-saving equipment on a boat. It is best to familiarize yourself with how to use any of the extinguishers on board and place them in a convenient location. The Coast Guard suggests that boaters check extinguishers on a regular basis for any dents, leaks, or loss of pressure. Don’t forget that all extinguishers must be USCG-approved B-1 type fire extinguishers in the state of Florida.
Be Careful with Smoking
If you’re smoking aboard a vessel, make sure to properly put them out and dispose of the cigarette carefully. It’s safest to never smoke while refueling, changing a gas cylinder, or when you’re sleepy, so to avoid an accident. Many boating organizations agree that emptying ashtrays on a regular basis, despite a small act, is important because a buildup of ash could catch fire.
Watch Out When Cooking
Cooking on a boat could be a very dangerous activity. When it comes to lighting a stove without its own igniter, a spark device like a gas lighter is one of the safest way to do so.
Never leave cooking unattended — simply turn it off until you come back. Beware of frying oil, as it can splatter and easily catch on fire. Like cigarettes, avoid cooking when you’re tired, have consumed alcohol, or when taking prescription drugs, as both (especially if combined) can cause drowsiness. When you’re done cooking, make sure to turn all cooking appliances off.
Engine Maintenance and Fuel Safety
The Fort Lauderdale boat fire was believed to have started in the engine. While all three passengers were rescued from the flames, it’s easy to see how dangerous the accident could have been. Boat owners should check and maintain the boat’s fuel, gas, and electrical systems on a regular basis.
Fuel and electrical problems are the two top causes of boat fires, according to Boating Magazine. Don’t let oil or debris build up in the bilges. Inspect the lagging of engine and heater exhausts for any damage or deterioration. Also, check for leaks in the exhaust systems of inboard engines. When refueling your vessel, take caution.
Make sure to turn off the engine and any cooking appliances before handling any fuel. To prevent vapor from entering the boat, the Coast Guard encourages boaters to close all doors, windows, hatches, and awning of the boat. Clean up any leaks or spills – they can catch fire easily – then make sure that caps are tightly secure. If you’re carrying extra fuel in the boat, store it in a self-draining locker or on an open deck.
A variety of different types of boating accidents can occur when people are out on the water having fun. For more information on what to do if you’re in a situation where you or a loved one is injured while boating, check out our reference guide. We offer information about the different types of boating accident claims and what an attorney can do for you, among other things.