Print the page
-A +A

Refuelling Safely


* Photo courtesy of Quinton Marals Imprint Pty Ltd

Boat fires and explosions caused destruction of property, 50 injuries and tragically, two deaths in Australia last year.

Did you know that petrol vapour is three to four times heavier than air? This means that it spreads quickly and if ignited, the resulting flash burn may injure or kill anyone it contacts. Please take a few moments to review the list below to ensure that you are using petrol safely.


  • Regular checks and timely maintenance will keep you and your passengers safe
  • Be cautious about using ethanol fuels - refer to your engine manufacturer's instructions
  • Check flexible hoses, tanks, cocks and vent terminals as well as filler caps, lids and their seals regularly for signs of wear and tear.
  • Ensure you have the correct fire-fighting equipment on board.

Before Refuelling

  • Stop the engine
  • Disembark all passengers
  • Turn off all mobile phones
  • Turn of all cooking, heating and lighting appliances and extinguish all naked flames
  • If refuelling with the boat on the water, make sure you know where the nearest spill kit is and consider carrying a small kit with you
  • Do not smoke at any stage of refuelling.

During Refuelling

  • If using a petrol engine, make sure it is properly grounded
  • Ensure the hose nozzle is in the tank before starting the dispenser
  • Operate the fuel dispenser by hand only - do not lock or jam the dispenser in the open position. Remember fuel expands in high temperatures and may overflow
  • Maintain contact between the hose nozzle and the filler neck to avoid static sparks
  • Ensure the dispenser is off before moving the hose nozzle from the tank.

After refuelling

  • If fuel has spilled into the bilges, manually pump the bilges out into a container or an onshore tank and vent the bilges for 30 minutes where possible
  • If you smell petrol, ventilate the boat. Only start the engine when the boat is free of fumes.

For more details, contact your local marine safety authority.


Acknowledgements: Refuelling Safely source - Boat Safety Scheme UK, South Australian Department of Energy and Infrastructure, Marine Safety Victoria - Refuelling.