BOAT owners are being urged to steer clear of hot water by taking fire and carbon monoxide safety advice on board.

Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service will be out and about around the county talking to boat owners and handing out leaflets between May 26 and 30 as part of national Boat Fire Safety Week.

The message, timed for the start of the boating season, is that owners should understand the risks, make regular, basic checks, and follow their engine and appliance operating guidelines, as the essential steps to deal with the fire and carbon monoxide threat.


Although boat fires on coastal and inland waters are less common than fires on land, when they do occur they can have devastating consequences. Boats are often in remote locations with difficult access which may result in firefighters taking longer to arrive at an incident, giving a fire time to totally destroy a boat and everything onboard.

By following a few simple basic safety precautions however, boat owners can reduce the fire risk and make sure their time afloat is safe and enjoyable for them and their passengers.

These precautions include: * Make sure you know your boat and make a fire action plan with everyone in the boat.

* Fit a smoke alarm that meets the EN 50291 standard and carries an approval mark such as ‘kitemark’.

* Fit a gas and petrol vapour detector alarm in the bilge and even in the cabin space to give you early warnings of dangerous build-ups of explosive gases.

* Check all appliances are turned off and if possible, close the valve on the LPG cylinders before you go to bed or leave the boat.

* Never leave a burning candle unattended. Make sure they are put out safely.

* Keep candles, matches, lighters and other sources of flame out of reach of children.

* Make sure cigarettes are put out safely – use metal ashtrays. Avoid falling asleep with a lit cigarette – never smoke in bed.

* Never leave a hot hob unattended especially when cooking with oil or fat.

* Don’t fit curtains or fabrics over hob burners and don’t dry tea towels or clothes over a cooker or hob.

* Take extreme care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders.

* Check such items as battery terminals and fuse box connections routinely for damaged strands or signs of overheating.

* Take care when doing repairs, and keep interiors well ventilated if you’re using adhesives, paints and spirit based products.

In addition to fire, carbon monoxide can also be lethal on board a boat.

The devastating consequences of a carbon monoxide leak on a motor cruiser on Windermere were seen last year when a mother and her 10-year-old daughter died after inhaling fumes from a generator.

The best method of protecting against this silent killer that has no taste, smell or colour, is to install a carbon monoxide alarm and: * Test the alarm routinely * Never remove the batteries * Install fuel burning appliances properly * Maintain appliances and engines routinely * Use the equipment correctly * Don't allow engine fumes into the cabin space * Never bring a lit or cooling barbecue into a cabin or covered area (the only safe charcoal is stone-cold charcoal) * Deal with problems immediately * Don't allow bodged repairs and maintenance * Know the signs of CO poisoning and how to react.

Cumbria’s Chief Fire Officer Ian Cartwright said: "With its lakes and large coastline Cumbria is a boating and sailing hotspot so we’re taking the safety messages around the county’s waterways.

“As with fire and carbon monoxide safety on land, just following a few simple steps can dramatically reduce the chances of your time on the water turning to tragedy.

“Having all the precautions in place will give you peace of mind and help you remember being on board for all the right reasons.”

Boat Fire Safety Week is being run by the national Fire Kills campaign and the Boat Safety Scheme in partnership with fire and rescue services across the UK. For more detail read the information on the BSS website: Guidelines produced by Boat Safety Scheme on smoke alarms in boats can be found here: