Michigan safe and clean boating – fueling tips (Part One)

Protect yourself and Michigan’s Great Lakes and inland waters by following some simple methods when fueling your boat.

Fueling your boat may seem like a tiresome task preventing you and your passengers from getting out on the water and enjoying Michigan’s Great Lakes and inland waters.  However, understanding the common ways fueling accidents can occur and avoiding fueling accidents will help everyone avoid the risks involved with fueling.

Fire is always a danger when fueling. On boats, this is a greater concern because of the increased sources of ignition, including:

  • an open flame from someone onboard smoking,
  • cooking equipment like a barbeque or galley stove, or
  • a spark from electrical equipment or from static discharge. 

When fueling in the water:

  •  extinguish all open flames,
  •  secure the boat to the dock or pier and have all passengers disembark,
  • turn off all electrical equipment, and
  • make sure the fuel nozzle is grounded to the fuel fill. 

Mooring the boat securely will reduce the amount of rocking and reduce the chance for fuel spillage.  Having no passengers onboard will also reduce the rocking of the boat, as well as make sure others are safe in case a fire does start.  If the boat is equipped with a power ventilation system, it should be secured until fueling is complete. Once fueling is complete, the power ventilation system should be turned on and allowed to run for at least four minutes prior to starting the boat.

Preventing a fire while fueling your boat is only one way to make sure you are a safe and clean boater. In Part Two of this series focuses on the impacts fuel can have on the aquatic environment and what you can do to reduce this impact. 

For more information on safe and clean boating in Michigan, please visit the Michigan Clean Marina Program website, or contact Erin DeVris, Michigan Sea Grant program coordinator at edevries@umich.edu, or Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator Mark Breederland at mbreederl@msu.edu.

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