Gas explosion puts boaters in hospital

Published: Monday, 26 July 2010

HARD on the heels of boaters being burned by a gas cylinder fire on the Thames, two more boaters have been burned, and are in hospital after another explosion caused by a portable gas cylinder

The explosion happened when the gas canister of a camping stove was being changed in the open cockpit of a small sailing boat on Hickling Broad where candles and cigarettes were in use. Two boaters were admitted to hospital with serious burns to their faces, arms and legs, but in this case the boat was hardly damaged.  The photograph by permission of the Broads Authority, shows the small appliance that caused such injury.

Great respect

The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) is urging boat owners to treat all such portable gas equipment with great respect, and change fuel canisters away from the boat and sources of ignition, with BSS Manager, Graham Watts explaining:

"This incident is a lesson to everyone that even portable gas equipment can cause an explosion big enough to send people to hospital. In the poorly ventilated, tight confines of a boat escaping gas is more dangerous than when it happens ashore out in the open.

"Be completely familiar with the correct and safe way of operating the appliance, from taking out of its storage case to fitting new fuel canisters.  Think about the alternatives, for example, if all you want is a hot drink on-board a day boat, a flask is probably the simplest and safest way. If wanting light, some battery powered or wind-up LED lights will last for ages and are far easier to use than gas lanterns.

"Where a simple cooker is needed aboard, think about installing a marine spirit stove as an alternative to a portable gas stove."

Inland waterway regulations do not ban portable gas equipment on boats, but when not in operation, any appliance with a canister fitted and all spare gas canisters, empty or full, must be stowed in lockers that are self-draining, or on open deck areas where any leaking gas will flow overboard. The risk of causing a pool of explosive vapour inside the boat must be avoided.