gets bad quickly: In each fire, youd have three
or four minutes to make a VHF radio mayday call,
locate and use extinguishers, don life jackets, and
prepare to abandon ship before likely being forced
- Having a working VHF with digital selective
calling is critical. DSC messages provide coordinates,
so anyone aboard can summon help and give rescuers your
location by pressing the radios red distress button.
A waterproof handheld VHF with DSC is a smart idea as
well, because in the event of a fire, an installed VHF
will probably lose its power source quickly or be inaccessible.
Do your guests know how to use the radio? The location
of the fire extinguishers? Do they wear or keep life
jackets close by? Do they know how to shut off the electrical
system quickly? A five-minute guest briefing improves
Beyond flotation and waterproof handheld VHFs, personal
locator beacons, flares, and other signaling tools provide
a lifeline from the water.
How many do you carry? Are they accessible in seconds?
Are they rated ABC for all fires? Having several ABC
tri-class extinguishers that go beyond the minimum U.S.
Coast Guard requirements could save you and your boat.
An engine-compartment fire-suppression system or, at
minimum, an installed engine fire port into which you
can discharge fire extinguishers can both contribute
to the quick extinguishing of a fire, or at least buy
you time in your fight against an engine-room fire.
Follow these four steps when using a fire extinguishers:
Pull the safety pin. Aim the extinguisher at the base.
Squeeze the handle. Sweep the hose from side to side
Many boaters bury them among the gear, then waste precious
time locating them in an emergency. Regulations say
that if jackets are not worn on board, they must be
Are you get out of the boat if the exit is blocked by
fire? Carpet, headliner, cushions, curtains, and other
flammables ignite when introduced to an open flame.
of Prevention -
Are your electrical and fuel systems maintained to American
Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC.org) standards? Electrical
faults are the No. 1 cause of boat fires. Whats
the condition of your fuel lines? If theyre 10
years old or emit a gas smell from a rag rubbed down
their length, replace them.
How many minutes should you wait to start the engine
after filling up at the fuel dock? Answer: At least
four, with the blower on and windows and doors/ hatches
open for the entire time. End the four-minute period
with a sniff test.