Boat Fueling Requirements and Safety

Gasoline and the fumes from gasoline are the most common causes of boat fires and explosions. Caution is needed when fueling your boat to avoid spilling and the spread and accumulation of fumes.

To ensure the safety of you, your passengers, and your boat, it is important to take precautions when fueling your boat:

  • Always shut the engine off.
  • Remove portable fuel tanks.
  • Instruct passengers to step off the boat when fueling.
  • Make sure no flames are present. No one should be smoking in the area.
  • Turn off all electrical devices that could potentially throw sparks.
  • Close all doors, hatches, and windows to ensure no fumes enter the boat.
  • Open all doors, hatches, and windows as soon as fueling is complete; this will allow any fumes to escape.

When filling your tank:

  • Hold the nozzle directly to the fill pipe; this will ground it and prevent static buildup.
  • Always leave room for gas to expand—never fill the tank more than 90% full.
  • Check to make sure gas tank air vents and valves are open.
  • Tightly replace the gas cap after fueling to prevent vapors from escaping.
  • Do a sniff test before starting the engine. If you smell fumes, increase circulation, and do not turn the engine on until you can no longer smell the fumes.

Inboard engines require a blower be turned on for four minutes before starting the boat. This is essential to remove built-up fumes from the bilge.

Never fill a portable fuel tank while it is on the boat! Remove and fill it at the fueling station. Once full, store the tank in a well-ventilated area that is away from all electrical equipment and the engine.

Gasoline can get expensive. To conserve fuel:

  • Distribute weight evenly throughout the boat.
  • Never overload the boat.
  • Make sure the engine is appropriate for the weight and size of your boat.
  • Stay up to date with preventative maintenance, including spark plug replacement.
  • Make sure the propeller is suitable for your engine, and check it regularly for damage.
  • Always drain the water from the bilge.
  • Make sure your hull is clean, as it reduces friction.

You should also read:

Boating Terminology

Parts of a Boat