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Part Four Boating Safety

Keep Cool When Things Get Hot

Just as the heat from the grill gives a steak that perfect taste, the heat from the sun creates a perfect outing for boaters and landlubbers alike. What you don't want, however, is to get burned... not by the sun, not by the gas pump and certainly not by an onboard fire. So, learn these operational tips to boating safely and be coolheaded during the summer heat.

Refueling Station

Safety against fire begins even before you take to the seas, when you fuel up for the water adventure. You can't be too cautious with regards to fueling. Gas can be very dangerous, and the water can't help you. Do the following to fuel up easily and safely.

Before Fueling:

    • Stop all engines.

    • Shut off all electricity, open flames and heat sources.

    • Check bilges for fuel vapors.

    • Extinguish all smoking materials.

    • Close all fittings and openings that could allow fuel vapors to enter the boat's enclosed spaces.

    • Remove all personnel from the boat except the person handling the fueling hose.

    • Make sure the children keep their floatation gear on while transferring in and out of the boat.

During Fueling:

    • Maintain nozzle contact with fill pipe.

    • Fuel filling nozzles must be attended at all times.

    • Wipe up fuel spills immediately.

    • Avoid overfilling.

After Fueling and Before Starting Engine:

    • Tighten fill cap securely and wipe up spillage.

    • Open all windows, hatches, doors and compartments.

    • Inspect bilges for leakage or fuel odors.

    • Ventilate until odors are removed. It is important to always evacuate fumes with the blower before attempting¬†to start the engine. Run blower for at least five minutes
      before starting your boat. If you smell gasoline fumes, continue to run blower.

Fire Onboard

While they are a very rare occurrence, onboard fires can happen, especially where there's a kitchen galley. Being well prepared is a key to a successful outcome with little damage and injury. First and foremost, it's crucial to have a Coast Guard-approved, FULLY CHARGED fire extinguisher(s) for your type and size of boat.

    • If a fire ignites while the boat is underway, stop the boat immediately. Rushing air is fuel to a fire.

    • If you have a radio, call for help.

    • Turn off all electrical power.

    • Assess the danger of the fire spreading. If sinking or explosion is a risk, put the passengers in PFDs. Keep everyone together and instruct them to swim clear of
      the boat.

    • If there is time, gently move the boat so the fire is downwind to slow the spread of the flames.

    • If the fire stems from loose material, the simplest course of action may be to toss the item(s) overboard.

    • If the material on fire is not gas or oil, but is a material such as wood or fabric, bail water on the fire.

    • If the fire stems from gas, oil or grease, use your fire extinguisher. WATER WILL NOT WORK. Because fire draws air in from the bottom to fuel itself, aim the nozzle
      of the extinguisher at the base of the fire. Be aware that this type of fire has a tendency to re-flash. A keen eye and steady hand are necessary to prevent flare-ups.

Fire Extinguishers

Not all fire extinguishers are alike. Different size boats require different types, sizes and numbers of extinguishers. (It is very important to consult with your State Boating Law Administrator or local Coast Guard Auxiliary unit for the proper safety equipment for your boat.) In addition, newer fire extinguishers use a picture/labeling system to designate which types of fires they are to be used on. Older fire extinguishers are labeled with colored geometrical shapes with letter designations. Both of these types of labels are shown below with the description of the different classes of extinguishers.

Even though the size and shape of extinguishers may be different, they all operate in a similar manner. Use this acronym to remember proper fire extinguisher: PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep). Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher that locks handle. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire while standing safely six to eight feet away from the fire. Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguisher. Sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire. After the fire appears to be out, stay and watch it. It may re-ignite!


Four basic extinguishers are labeled Classes A, B, C and D, according to their purpose and type of fire they douse. They each also bare a numerical rating, which refers to either the amount of fluid the extinguisher holds or the square footage of fire eliminated when used. Class A extinguishers are made for fires from ordinary combustibles such as wood and paper. Class B extinguishers are designed to extinguish flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline and oil. Class C extinguishers are for use against electrically energized fires. (This class of fire extinguishers does not have a numerical rating; the presence of the letter C indicates that the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.) Class D extinguishers are made for flammable metals and are often specific for the type of metal in question.

Many extinguishers available today can be used on different types of fires and will be labeled with more than one designator, such as A-B, B-C or A-B-C. Make sure that if you have a multi-purpose extinguisher, it is properly labeled.

Boating is one of the best recreations under the sun, but you have to stay cool under fire. Following these safety tips will ensure a fun and fond experience for you, your loved ones and friends during those long summer days.


    • All Volunteer Yacht Club (AVYC)

    • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

    • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

    • United States Power Squadron (USPS)

Sea Ray is proud to offer this safety information to increase your boating safety and enjoyment. These documents are provided for your personal information only, and you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any of these materials shall be at your sole risk. Sea Ray reserves the right, in its sole discretion and without any obligation, to make improvements to, or correct any error or omissions, in any portion of the information. Sea Ray hereby disclaims all liability to the maximum extent permitted by law in relation to this information and does not give any warranties, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any of the information provided.

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