Preventing boat explosions after refueling

Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 5:35 PM CDT
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The U.S. Coast Guard says in 2017, five of the 164 fuel-related boat fires across the country happened in Missouri.

Just last week, five people were hurt after a boat explosion on the Lake of the Ozarks.

Troopers say that boat explosion happened when the driver started the boat after refueling.

Alex Berger of Berger Marina explained to

KY3/KSPR's Andrew Havranek

how most boat explosions happen.

"Right here you can see we can fill with gas right here, and not even four feet away, we've got our blower vents, which are sucking that fresh air right back into our bilge," Berger showed.

That could be dangerous if you're pumping gas to refuel your boat on the water.

"If we're gassing up right here we've got gas fumes in at least a four, five foot cloud here being sucked right back into your bilge," Berger added.

That doesn't always mean your boat could explode. But, if gas fumes are being sucked back into your boat, and there is any sort of spark leak in your boat, it could.

So, what can you do make sure gas or fumes aren't getting into your bilge?

First, you want to make sure you turn your blower off while refueling. This will lower the risk of those fumes being sucked into your boat.

You also want to check your hoses at least once a year. That includes the hoses to fill the gas tank, hoses that vent the air out of the tank, as well as the hose going from the gas tank to the engine.

"All three of those ways, gas fumes can easily get into your bilge," Berger said.

Boat experts say when you get your boat de-winterized and ready for the water every spring, your mechanic will check all of those hoses for you.

" If you've got your boat in the shop and your mechanic says 'hey this is a problem and needs addressed,' listen to it and fix your broken stuff," Berger said.

Boat experts and the Missouri State Highway Patrol recommend you turn those blowers on for at least four minutes after refueling to clear all the gas vapors out before you start your engine.

They also recommend getting everyone off the boat, and to not smoke or be on your cell phone while pumping gasoline.