Group targets myths around boat fire extinguishers

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A safety arm of BoatUS has issued fire extinguisher safety tips aimed at dispelling persistent myths around these critical safety devices. 

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water issued the advisory this month in part based on questions the agency receives each year from boat owners. 

First off, BoatUS said modern fire extinguishers do not need to be tapped or whacked each year to keep the contents fresh and ready to respond. In fact, the group said rapping the side of the extinguisher can harm the unit and compromise its ability to respond during an emergency. 

Another myth: Fire extinguishers must be mounted on a bracket. In reality, BoatUS said hanging the extinguisher keeps it readily available and protect it from damage. However, mounting it is not a legal requirement. At the same time, stashing the unit at the bottom of a locker where it’s hard to reach in a pinch isn’t a good idea either. 

While many boaters believe it’s a good idea to replace their extinguishers every year, turns out that’s not necessary. Fire extinguishers, unlike flares, have no expiration date. 

“To meet US Coast Guard carriage requirements however, the extinguisher must be Coast Guard approved and in ‘good and serviceable’ condition,” BoatUS said in a news release. “The charge indicator needs to be in the green zone, the nozzle free of obstruction and the cylinder not rusted.”

Finally, the organization dispelled the idea that federal requirements call for just one extinguisher on board. In fact, US Coast Guard standards mandate larger vessels have more than one. For smaller boats, keeping a backup or two on hand is a good idea, too. 

For more information on BoatUS safety tips around fire extinguishers, visit 

By Ocean Navigator