Boating for kids

Corey Asks: Why is a having fire extinguisher on your boat a rule when there is alot of water around the boat to put out the fire?

Corey, that is a great question. Although there is a lot of water around the boat, not all fires can or should be put out with water. Fire Extinguishers are classified by letters and numbers according to the class and size fire they can put out. The letter, (A, B, C, or D) indicates the class of fire. The number is a measure of the capacity of the extinguisher - the larger the number the greater the capacity to put out a fire.


"A" is for combustible solids like wood.


"B" is for flammable liquids such as gasoline.


"C" is for electrical fires.


"D" is for combustible metals like magnesium

Some boat fires involve burning wood and paper (Class A), these fires can be put out with water. Do not use water on gasoline, oil, or electrical fires. Water causes gasoline and oil fires to spread and electrical current is conducted through the water. If you used water on an electrical fire you risk being shocked by the electrical current.

Inspect your fire extinguishers monthly to make sure they are properly stored, charged and undamaged. Portable extinguishers should be mounted where they are accessible. Check the gauge to make sure the extinguisher is still charged. Check the seals to make sure they have not been tampered with. Replace cracked or broken hoses and keep nozzles free from obstruction. You should also weigh them to assure that they meet the minimum weight stated on the label.

Once you use a fire extinguisher, you should either have it recharged, if it is rechargeable, or replaced if it is a disposable type. In any event, always make sure that your extinguisher label indicates that it is a U.S. Coast Guard approved marine type device.

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