Like any vehicle, boats are always at risk for fires and explosions. Most of the fire incidents start in the engine compartment, where combustible elements like heat, fuel, and oxygen are present. Avoid disaster altogether by learning the following common causes and precautionary measures to take in and around your vessel.
What Causes Fires on Boats?
More than half of boat fires originate onboard, especially around the engine and ignition sources. However, that doesn’t mean that fires never originate off the boat. About a quarter of incidents are due to external factors.
External Sources: When the fire starts somewhere in the marina, storage facilities, and areas near or surrounding the boat, there’s a possibility that others will get caught up in flames as well. The majority of these fires, in turn, begin on just one boat.
Electrical Issues: Faulty wiring, loose cable connections, malfunctioning switches, and worn-out cords are a few of the many electrical issues that can result in fires onboard. Sometimes, all it takes is a tiny spark to ignite the fumes or start the flames.
Engine: Your engine is designed to prevent overheating. However, it can happen when the cooling water intake gets clogged, or the pump impeller fails due to sediment or old age. Either way, it leads to rising temperatures and engine fires.
Battery: Connecting the battery cable to the wrong terminal is a recipe for disaster, so make sure to label them accordingly. Apart from this, a faulty voltage regulator on your outboard will likely lead to fires on boats, too.
How Can You Prevent Them?
Since there’s always the possibility of fires on board, take a few safety measures to avoid such dangers.
Keep an Extinguisher Aboard: Always have the correctly-rated fire extinguisher to prevent flames from spreading throughout your boat. Know how to use it properly and teach other passengers as well in case of emergencies.
Perform Regular Inspection: Before heading out, give your vessel and its engine a once-over. Keep an eye out for any signs of damage, especially on the wiring and electrical system.
Schedule Routine Upkeep: Most fires are due to faulty components and worn out parts. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of your boat, you should take it to a professional instead. Apart from comprehensive inspection, they will also replace and repair minor issues.
Fires are an inevitable part of boat ownership, so bear in mind their causes and prevention. It also pays to ask the professionals at McMillan Marine in Rochester, NY. Their service shop is fully equipped to handle all kinds of repairs and maintenance work on marine vessels such as boats, jet skis, and pontoons. Call (585) 288-2180 to set an appointment or inquire via their website.