Always use extreme caution when fueling a boat. Remember gasoline and gasoline vapors can be extremely explosive. Ignition of spilled fuel or vapors continues to cause boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Proper ventilation is vital and reduces the chance of explosions.
Following safe fueling procedures reduces the opportunity for gasoline explosions. Prepare outboard gas and oil mixtures on the dock or shore when possible.
When fueling on the water secure the boat to the dock and switch off engine(s). Extinguish all open flames and do not use electrical switches. No smoking. Close ports, hatches and doors and make sure all passengers are ashore.
Think in terms of preventing even a drop of fuel from going into the water, especially when fueling at a fuel dock or along the shoreline. Maintain contact between the fuel nozzle and the fill pipe or tank until fueling is completed.
Avoid overfilling - fill the tank slowly to avoid a spill. Remember, excess fuel will flow out the vent (and into the water) when it becomes warm and expands. It's best to fill the tank away from the water. Wipe up all spilled gasoline and dispose of the wipe-up rags on shore. Never throw rags into the PWC or the water.
It is against the Federal Pollution Control Act to pump or discharge any kind of oil into navigable waters. Even a small amount of oil accidentally spilled can quickly spread over a large area. One pint of oil can create a slick covering about one acre. Wind, tides, temperature and the type of oil all affect how wide the slick spreads. A PWC operator can be held responsible for clean-up costs and for correcting any environmental damage caused by their spill.
Once fueling has been completed, open ports, hatches and doors to ventilate and turn on the blower for a minimum of four minutes. Smell for any gas fumes. If there are no gas vapors start the engine (s), re-board the passengers and cast off.
Note: Any portable tanks should be refueled ashore and secured to the vessel when brought on board.
Most PWCs are equipped with a fuel reserve switch, allowing a margin of safety when you run low on fuel. If you run out of fuel, switching to reserve provides fuel to get back to shore. Don't take chances when you're operating on reserve: proceed directly back to shore at a moderate or posted speed and refuel your craft. Fuel injected PWCs have a fuel gauge. Understand the fuel gauge's mechanism and the range of your reserves. It's part of knowing your equipment and its capabilities.
A good rule of thumb for fuel allocation is use one-third of the tank going out, one-third for returning and one-third in reserve.
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