May 2019

A message to boaters from the RYA this Fire Safety Week

Have you fitted suitable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?

Boaters are being urged to ensure they have suitable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during the national Fire Kills Campaign’s Boat Fire Safety Week (May 27-June 2).

Fire crews will be visiting boat owners and handing out Fire Safety on Boats and Carbon Monoxide Safety on Boats leaflets to help crew members know the risks and how to protect themselves.

Suitable fire and CO alarms provide an early warning that something is wrong and it’s time to take action. The Boat Safety Scheme publishes lists of suitable alarms on its website and has advice from manufacturers on the best places to fix the devices. Alarms should be tested using the test button routinely and the batteries replaced as necessary and never removed. The
RYA website has advice for preventing incidents and dealing with problems when they occur.

From 1 April 2019 at least one carbon monoxide (CO) alarm became a mandatory requirement on nearly all private and non-private boats in scope of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) requirements.

The Boat Safety Scheme warns that CO can occur with one or a mix of these factors:

  • faulty, badly maintained or misused appliances

  • exhaust fumes from a boat's engine or generator

  • escaped flue gases from solid fuel stoves

  • blocked ventilation or short supply of air - fuels need the right amount of oxygen to burn safely


Advice on avoiding a carbon monoxide incident includes:

  • Install fuel burning appliances properly

  • Maintain appliances and engines routinely

  • Use the equipment correctly

  • Don't allow engine fumes into the cabin space

  • Deal with problems immediately

  • Don't allow bodged repairs and maintenance

  • Install a CO alarm

  • Test the alarm routinely

  • Never remove the batteries

  • Know the signs of CO poisoning and how to react

  • Do not block up ventilation openings


Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, said: “CO detectors alarm at low concentration levels to give a person time to react and regrettably it appears that these are often mistaken as false alarms rather than early warning and are switched off.

“If the alarm sounds, take action to shut off sources of CO (engines, generators, open flame appliances) if safe to do so, get clear of fumes into the fresh air and seek medical attention immediately. Be aware that CO may be coming from boats that are near you, particularly those with petrol engines that are at idle. CO alarms will provide an early warning of CO and help alert you to the presence of CO when you are afloat.”

Further advice on CO is available on the RYA website.

Once a fire on board a boat really takes hold, it is unlikely that it will be successfully tackled. It is therefore essential to observe good fire safety practice to minimise the risk of a fire occurring. Prevention is far better than cure.

If a fire does occur, it is imperative that you have sufficient firefighting equipment to hand and that you know how to use it, if the fire is to be extinguished quickly and effectively.
For detailed advice visit the RYA website.

Boat Safety Scheme manager, Graham Watts said: “In the past 20 years, 30 boaters were killed in boat fires and another 30 lost their lives to the highly toxic CO gas. It’s time everyone in the boating community said ‘no more avoidable tragedies’. Being protected by suitable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be viewed as a normal part of boat ownership”.

For information about general boat fire and CO safety,
visit www.boatsafetyscheme.org/stay-safe/

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