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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Fire safety on boats and caravans

Boats and caravans have different fire risks to buildings mainly because they are smaller, enclosed spaces with hazards, like a gas cylinder. Find out how to reduce the risk of fire on your boat and caravan by following some simple safety risks.

Installing a smoke alarm on your boat

A smoke alarm can alert you to the risk of fire on your boat, giving you time to escape or alert the emergency services.

Installing Carbon Monoxide (CO) and gas detectors on your boat

A CO detector will alert you to poisonous carbon monoxide on your boat. Taking the following steps can also protect you from the risk of CO poisoning:

  • check your detector is suitable for marine use and also meets the BS7860 and EN50291 standards
  • fit the bubble type leak detector in the gas locker
  • push the detector button routinely to check for leaks in the gas system

Using gas cylinders on boats

If you are using a gas cylinder on a boat:

  • install a gas detection system, if possible
  • when changing cylinders, make sure all cylinder valves are turned off before disconnecting
  • regularly hand-pump bilges (the enclosed areas at the inner bottom of the hull) to remove potential low-lying vapours

Cooking fire and electrical safety on boats

Most cooking and electrical fires can be prevented by following the right safety tips.

Cooking fire safety

You can prevent fire on your boat by following these safety tips when cooking:

  • never leave your cooking unattended – turn it off until you come back
  • use a ‘proprietary gas lighter’ – a spark device – to light a stove without its own igniter
  • keep the cabin well ventilated to avoid build-up of poisonous CO

Electrical safety on boats

Follow these simple steps to protect your boat from the risk of fire:

  • always check for the British or European safety mark when buying electrical goods
  • use a trained marine electrician to install and service electrical items on your boat
  • take care not to overload your adaptors – keep to one plug per socket and use the right fuse or circuit breaker to avoid overheating

Fuel fires – how to avoid them

When using the engine, you should ventilate the engine compartment before starting up the engine and after any maintenance. In addition, you should check fuel lines and tanks regularly for any cracks or leaks

Take care with fuel:

  • if you have to carry spare fuel always store it on the upper deck
  • stop the engine before refuelling and put out all smoking materials and naked flames
  • make sure air and gas from tanks is released directly overboard and fuel lines have a direct shut-off valve that works

If a fire starts on board

These are the essential points to remember if a fire starts on board:

  • switch off fuel and gas, if possible
  • get as far away from the fire as you can get on deck and make sure everybody is wearing a life jacket

If you are inland, get out and call 999 immediately

See ‘Safety regulations for pleasure craft’ for more information about the safety requirements for pleasure craft, like yachts.

Fire safety in caravans

Around nine people a year are killed by fire in mobile home. By following a few safety tips, you can keep you and your loved ones safe from fire in your mobile home.

Installing a smoke alarm in your mobile home

There are different model of smoke alarms s available, so make sure you get the one that is best suited for your needs.

You can read ‘Smoke alarms’ for more information on installing and maintaining smoke alarms.

Cooking safety on mobile homes

Follow these basic precautions to reduce the risk of fire:

  • never use a cooker or heater whilst your caravan is moving
  • never leave your cooking unattended

And remember, if your chip pan catches fire, do not throw water on it or move the pan – it will only make it worse. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so.

Electrical safety and heating in mobile homes

You can keep your mobile home safe from the risk of electrical and heating fires by following these safety tips:

  • make sure your electrical wiring and appliances are in good order by testing them regularly by a qualified electrician
  • do not use multi-adaptors as they can be overloaded

Plug-in heaters use a lot of electricity and generate a lot of heat. This means they can be dangerous if they are not bought from reputable shops and used correctly.

You should:

  • make sure you do not use petrol, paraffin or diesel when lighting a fuel stove
  • make sure the heating area is well ventilated by opening a door or window

You can find out more about fire safety and heaters in ‘Electric blanket and heaters’.

Storing fuel in your homes

To store fuel in your mobile home, you should:

  • not store petrol, diesel or gas containers under your mobile home
  • make sure your gas bottle (LPG) is outside, on level ground - away from heat sources
  • ensure the connection to the gas pipe is sound and the bottle secured

Fire safety in mobile parks

When siting your mobile home, you should park at least six metres apart and well away from parked cars.

In addition, make sure you know what the fire arrangements on the camp site are and where the nearest telephone is.

If there is a fire in your caravan:

  • get everyone out straight away
  • call the local fire and rescue service and give your location with a map reference, if possible, or provide a nearby landmark, like a farm.

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