Vacation time for many families is right around the corner, and you may be looking forward to some quality time on the water here in South Carolina.
Whether you have your own boat or are planning to rent one, you should make it a point to review safety procedures. For example, would you know what to do in case of a fire aboard the boat?
Fires are started with three ingredients: fuel, heat and oxygen. Make sure that the fuel system on your boat has been properly maintained and that there are no leaks. Check that the ventilation system on the boat is working properly and that the bilges are clean.
Managing a fire if underway
If you are already underway when a fire erupts, stop your boat. Make sure that everyone is wearing a safety vest in case they will have to abandon the vessel. Next, position the boat properly. Turn the bow into the wind if the fire is located at the back of the boat and use a paddle to keep it in this position if the engine has to be shut down. Aim the stern into the wind if the fire is located in the front of the boat. If the engine compartment is the scene of the fire, shut the fuel supply off.
These initials are a reminder of the steps to take when using a fire extinguisher:
- P-Pull the pin
- A-Aim at the base of the flames
- S-Squeeze the handle
- S-Sweep the extinguisher side to side
Also, remember never to use water on an electrical, grease, oil or gasoline fire.
A maritime lawyer will remind you to use your VHF marine radio to summon help. Fires onboard small pleasure boats are not everyday occurrences, but they do happen. If you or any of your passengers are injured, you will be able to seek compensation under maritime law for medical expenses, lost wages and more. Fires can be tragic events anywhere, but they are especially dangerous when they occur during an otherwise enjoyable boat ride.