Markey Township Fire Department –
Summer is in full swing and that means the boats are out there like the mosquitoes in my yard.
When most of us think of boat safety, the first things that come to mind are the life jackets and the fire extinguisher. Both are great equipment to have and to use, in fact required, but let’s look at a couple of other issues that tend to be overlooked and can impact our health and safety.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has issued some warnings on potential hazards regarding boats and marinas to look out for. The concern is that folks putting their boats in and out at the many marinas, or working on them while moored, may be in a dangerous situation and my not even be aware of it.
One of these dangers is the buildup of carbon monoxide, or CO as we know it. True, we mostly associate this hazard with homes, garages and workplaces, but remember any fuel burning motor can produce lethal amounts of this gas if not running properly.
When you think of it, the marina is the natural place to leave the boat motor idling while we go back and forth to gather the coolers, fishing gear and the like. It’s also the place where many work on the motors to get them running better, tinkering with this or that. These scenarios can lead to CO buildup.
The advice is to provide plenty of ventilation for this equipment, remembering that CO can accumulate in the lower areas of a cabin or boat well. You are encouraged to get a CO alarm for your boat as well. The critical points here are ventilation and properly maintained engines.
Our second caution is electrical safety around water. Many marinas, or private docks for that matter, have electrical power running to hoists, battery chargers and other items. Metal dock treads, metal poles anchoring docks, water and electricity are a strange and dangerous mix indeed.
Faulty or poorly maintained equipment can lead to electrical leakage and anyone in the water tending to their boat or swimming around the area could fall victim to electrical shock drowning. This condition, or ESD as it is known, is caused when an individual is in the water and there is electric current flowing into the water from wiring or equipment.
While a shock in the water may not initially be lethal, it can temporarily paralyze muscles that may prevent the jolted person from being able to swim on the water or swim to the dock or shore, leading to the possibility of drowning. This means that an otherwise survivable shock on dry land may be fatal if delivered in the water.
Never let the kids swim around the dock areas of a marina, they are not intended to be swimming holes or beaches. Teach them about these safety concerns and why they need to aware before entering the water. Above all, remember that any equipment needs to be checked frequently for condition issues before use.
While we’re at it, everyone knows the danger and how treacherous a boat fire can be. We would like therefore, to direct you to an outstanding site focusing on boats and fire safety. The fine folks at Gerrish Township Fire and EMS have put together a comprehensive information package dealing with fire safety on the water. Go to gerrishfire-ems.org/safety-tips/boat-fire-safety/ for a wealth of information. It’s free, it’s on the web, so take advantage and help ensure a fun filled, yet safe boating season for everyone.
Have a great time on the water!