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Make Fueling Your Boat Cleaner - And Safer

Some useful tips to remember when filling up at the pump.
Boating Safety

•    To avoid air locks and sudden spills, be sure your boat is level when refueling.  Put passengers ashore or level your trailer if refueling at a service station.
•    Be sure you have a fire extinguisher within reach when filling up.  Extinguish cigarettes and any other smoking materials or flame. Turn off engines, all electrical equipment, including radios, stoves, and other appliances. And never use a cell phone when fueling.  Static electricity can create a spark.  Turn cell phones completely off.

•    Do not rely on hands-free or automatic shut-off features.  Attend the nozzle at all times, and never fill your fuel tank to the top. Fuel will expand as it warms up, especially in warm weather, so be sure to allow room in your tanks for this expansion to avoid leaking fuel into the water.  Let’s keep our marine environment clean.

•    If you have a metal fuel tank, maintain nozzle contact with the fill pipe to prevent static spark and spills.  Hold an absorbent sheet under the nozzle to catch any drips, and be sure to wipe up any spillage that should occur. After fueling, be sure to secure the filler cap to prevent fuel from leaking or water from entering the tank.

•    Before starting the engine, run the blower for at least four minutes and check the bilge for any fuel vapors.  Open all ports, hatches, and doors to ventilate. Do the “sniff” test.  Make sure there is no gasoline odor anywhere on the boat. If there is, don’t start the engine. Instead, continue ventilating and checking for possible leaks.

Fuel Efficiently

How well you maintain and operate your vessel can have a huge impact on fuel economy. To make the most of what’s in your tank, consider these tips:

•    Chart your trip to reduce unnecessary run time.  Use the tides and wind to your advantage.  Boating against the tides and wind takes more horsepower and fuel.

•    Be sure to keep your load light and well-balanced to reduce the horsepower required to propel it through the water.  Travel at steady, moderate speeds to reduce fuel consumption.

•    Keep your boat well maintained: Be sure your engine is tuned.  Clean spark plugs and proper timing will improve mileage.  Keep your hull clean.  Perform regular hull maintenance to prevent hard marine growth that creates a rough hull and adds to underwater drag. Check your propeller.  Are the blades clean and in good condition? A damaged propeller provides inefficient propulsion and burns extra fuel.

•    Prevent stale gas by running the tank to empty before any long periods of inactivity, and always store portable fuel tanks in a cool dry place to minimize condensation.

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The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency's Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to "Boat Responsibly!" For more tips on boating safety, visit

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