Stay safe on the waterways this summer

Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service is urging boat owners and users to think about fire safety when enjoying Oxfordshire’s waterways this summer.

Crew from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Rewley Road Station pictured during a joint training exercise with TVP in Wolvercote.

The warning comes as part of the national Boat Safety Week (30 May – 5 June 2016), which aims to highlight the importance of having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on boats. It is a reminder for the many residential boat owners living on Oxfordshire’s waterways and also to those who rent leisure and house boats at this time of year.

Chris Barber, Station Manager for Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service said: “In the past 20 years thirty boaters were killed in boat fires and another thirty lost their lives to the ‘silent killer’ carbon monoxide. 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 inland waters in Oxfordshire are less common than fires on land, when they do occur they quite often have devastating consequences. As well as taking fire safety on the boat into account, we would urge boaters to ensure that they know their location at all times so that in the event of any emergency we can get reach them as soon as possible.

“Smoke alarms can make a real difference to the outcome of fires on boats. We want all boat users to be aware of the risks and want to see suitable smoke alarms installed in all boats with overnight accommodation. Anyone in doubt about the alarm they need should contact us on 08000 325 999. We are here to help you make sure your boat is as fire safe as possible."

Smoke alarms save lives

Smoke alarms can make a real difference to the outcome of fires on boats. They are reasonably priced in local DIY stores and are easy to fit. For boats, optical sensor alarms with hush buttons and sealed for life batteries are recommended as are choosing those with a British Standard ‘Kitemark’ or a LPCB ‘Horseshoe’ mark. Test your alarm weekly if you live on your boat or every time you board your boat if you don’t.

Other top safety tips for boaters

  • Have at least one fire extinguisher, which you should put near the boat exit
  • Make sure the cooker is not left unattended
  • Always keep an eye on a solid fuel stove when it’s lit. Try to avoid leaving the boat with the stove running
  • Make sure furnishings and foam insulation are ‘fire-retardant’, which means they don’t catch fire easily
  • Make sure you know the contact details of the local Fire and Rescue Service
  • Take extreme care when refuelling with petrol or changing gas cylinders
  • Avoid using portable gas equipment on-board, where possible, and store all gas canisters in special gas lockers or open places where any leaks will flow overboard
  • Check battery terminals and fuse box connections routinely for damaged strands or signs of overheating
  • Take care when doing repairs, and keep interiors well ventilated when using adhesives, paints and spirit based products.

People can also get safety advice on the go, with the top 10 tips to keep you safe from carbon monoxide available for smartphones, tablets and laptops at www.365alive.co.uk

For further information about general boat fire and carbon monoxide safety advice, visitwww.boatsafetyscheme.org/stay-safe