Boat Safety Scheme warning aimed at daysailers as well as inland waterways users

Safety advice has been issued to boaters about portable gas cookers with integral gas canisters following incidents where people have been seriously burnt.

The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) and Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards service point out that the manufacturers’ operating instructions say these stoves shouldn’t be used onboard boats, although they are not currently banned on the inland waterways by the BSS.

The message relates to the widely available and relatively cheap, small, portable stoves with a compartment for an aerosol type gas canister. The stoves have a generally flat profile and are mostly a square or rectangular shape which is about the size of a brief case or cereal box.

With some of these stoves, it is possible to use the appliance with the pan support or spill tray the wrong way up, which has caused a number of accidents onshore in the UK. There have been few reported incidents aboard boats.

‘It seems that with the pan support upside down and the burner on, heat is transferred onto the aerosol type gas canister in the body of the stove and after a time, the canister can burst causing a violent explosion and fireball’, said Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber.

BSS manager, Graham Watts added: ‘We are urging boaters not to use these portable cookers in the poorly ventilated, tight confines of a boat. Even before using them ashore, people need to check the assembly and seals very carefully.’

While inland waterway regulations do not ban these cookers, when not in operation, the stove and all gas canisters must be stowed in lockers that are self-draining, or on open deck areas where any leaking gas will flow overboard and not where it could cause a pool of explosive vapour inside the boat.

The advice from the BSS and Hampshire County Council Trading Standards is, before you use a portable gas cooker with integral gas canister, please follow these important safety points:

  • Only use the cooker onshore.
  • Stow the canisters, used or unused and the stove if it has a canister inserted, in a self-draining gas locker, or on open deck where any escaping gas can flow overboard.
  • Check the cooker’s condition before each use, if the gas canister seal looks damaged, or if the cooker or gas canister is extremely rusty and deteriorated, do not use it.
  • Familiarise yourself with the operating instructions before use.
  • Check if the pan support / spill tray must be turned over after removal from the carry case, to the correct cooking position.
  • Ensure that you have the correct type of gas canister for your appliance and that it is being inserted in the right place and in the right way.
  • Do not force the gas canister retaining lever into position. It could damage the mechanical linkage and the pressure relief device.
  • If you have problems with the retaining lever, check that the pan support / spill tray and gas canister have been correctly installed.
  • If you still have problems with the lever OR if you have further problems or concerns, do not attempt to light the cooker.
  • If you smell or hear gas leaking before attempting to light it, don’t use it.
  • If any gas is leaking, ensure that it is being dispersed in free air well away from the boat or any sparks or other sources of ignition.