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Boats and caravans: fire safety advice

​​Basic fire safety advice for boats and caravans

In your boat or caravan you should always:

  • fit a smoke alarm
  • have at least one fire extinguisher, which you should keep near the boat or caravan’s exit
  • make sure the cooker is not left unattended
  • make sure furnishings and foam insulation are ‘fire-retardant’, which means they don’t catch fire easily
  • only store safety matches – vibrations could set off non-safety matches

Boating fire safety

These simple precautions will reduce the risk of fire on your boat and protect everyone on board.

Fuel fires – how to avoid them

When using the engine:

  • ventilate the engine compartment before starting up the engine
  • ventilate the engine space thoroughly after any maintenance
  • check fuel lines and tanks regularly for any cracks or leaks

Take care with fuel

  • only carry spare fuel if absolutely necessary and only in approved containers
  • 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
  • always use a funnel when pouring fuel from one container to another
  • make sure air and gas from tanks is released directly overboard and fuel lines have a direct shut-off valve that works
  • after refuelling, tightly secure the filler inlet cap and clear up any spillages
  • air the boat thoroughly before starting the engine or using naked flames again
  • regularly remove rubbish, oil and debris from all areas

Planning for an emergency

For each sleeping position, plan the best escape route and make sure everyone knows where the fire safety equipment is stored.  You should also make sure your life-raft and emergency equipment, like flares, are in good condition.

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
  • if safe to do so, use a fire extinguisher
  • avoid getting too close to other craft and alert them to the danger posed by your boat
  • think of your own safety – get out and abandon ship immediately
  • take a note of nearby landmarks that may help emergency services identify your location

Caravan fire safety

Follow these basic precautions to reduce the risk of fire:

  • park caravans at least six metres apart, away from parked cars
  • make sure you know what the fire safety arrangements are on the campsite and where the nearest telephone is

Inside your caravan:

  • if you smoke, use metal ashtrays – and never smoke in bed
  • don’t leave children alone inside
  • don’t block air vents – if any leaking gas builds up you may fall unconscious and be unable to escape
  • turn off all appliances before you leave the caravan or go to bed
  • never use a cooker or heater whilst your caravan is moving

If there is a fire in your caravan:

  • get everyone out straight away
  • call the Fire and Rescue Service and give a map reference if possible – provide a landmark, like a farm or pub, to help them find you

Using gas cylinders safely in boats and caravans

You should take special care when handling gas cylinders.  Follow these safety tips:

  • install a gas detection system, if possible
  • if you think there is a gas leak, turn off all appliances and the main cylinder valve – open all the doors and windows
  • change gas cylinders only when they are completely empty
  • make sure the new cylinder is secure before connecting it
  • when changing cylinders, make sure all cylinder valves are turned off before disconnecting
  • do not turn on the cylinder valves before the connection is complete
  • spare and empty cylinders should be kept in the open air and secured by a safety strap or other quick release device

Gas cylinders and boats:

  • cylinders should be secured in a sealed, weatherproof container with low-level atmospheric vents
  • regularly hand-pump bilges to remove potential low-lying vapours
  • if weather permits, ensure hatches and portholes are opened sufficiently to provide ventilation
  • any compartment on the boat that has not been used for some time should be aired thoroughly

There is more information on boats and sailing on the Port of Jersey website:

Ports of Jersey website

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