Topping off our fuel tanks is not only one of the more expensive activities boaters do, but it’s also one of the most dangerous, especially if your boat runs on gasoline as opposed to diesel. To make refueling as safe as possible, follow these fuel dock safety tips.
- After tying up at the fuel dock, secure all ports and hatches in the closed position to keep fuel vapors outside the cabin and engine spaces.
- Keep a portable fire extinguisher in the cockpit or near the fuel fill area.
- Keep absorbent pads handy near the fuel overflow vent if possible.
- Secure the connection between the fuel nozzle and the fuel fill connector to prevent static sparks.
- Keep an eye on the fuel gauge while filling up. Fuel will expand in tanks when the boat is unattended and the weather warms up, so leave room for expansion. If you plan on boating right after filling up, this isn’t as critical.
- After fueling and securing the fuel nozzle and fill cap, open all hatches and start the bilge blowers. Use the sniff test to check for vapors in the engine room space. Remember, “take five to stay alive”: Run the blowers for at least five minutes before starting the engines—even on busy weekends when others are waiting to access the fuel dock.
- Check for leaks, wipe up any spilled fuel, and properly dispose of used absorbent pads on shore.