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Boat safety

If you live on, or rent out a boat with gas appliances, gas safety is important.


When buying a new or replacement gas appliance you should make sure that it is suitable for use on a boat and for the type of gas to be used (e.g. LPG or natural gas). All gas appliances should be regularly serviced and safety checked every year by a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered engineer. You should check your engineer is qualified to work on boats as well as qualified to work on the individual appliance. For example, if you need someone to work on an LPG gas cooker on your boat, they will need to be registered for boats, cookers and LPG gas.

To comply with Gas Safety Regulations, any boat that is used for hire and reward (such as narrow boats on inland waterways) which provides residential accommodation must have an annual gas safety check carried out. Landlord’s duties apply and there are three main responsibilities:

  • Maintenance: pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the appliance manufacturer’s instructions. Where these instructions are not available it is recommended that the gas appliances are serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

  • Gas safety checks: a 12 monthly gas safety check must be carried out on each gas appliance and flue system. A gas safety check will make sure all gas fittings and appliances are safe to use. The condition of the gas equipment and any safety defect is recognised and mentioned on the Gas Safety Record.

  • Record: a record of the annual gas safety check must be provided to your tenant within 28 days of the check being completed or to new tenants before they move in. If the boat is hired out for less than 28 days at a time, it is also permissible to display a copy of the Landlords Gas Safety Record in a prominent position within the boat. Landlords must keep copies of the gas safety record for two years. Note: the gas safety record should not be confused with a Boat Safety Scheme certificate.

If you are using a portable appliance on your boat with an integral gas canister make sure you:

  • Check the equipments condition before each use. If the gas canister seal looks damaged, or if the gas canister is extremely rusty and deteriorated, or shows any signs of distress, do not use it.
  • Familiarise yourself with the operating instructions before use.
  • Ensure that you have the correct type of gas canister for your appliance and that it is being inserted in the correct position 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 items such as pan supports/spill tray and the 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 appliance.
  • If you smell or hear gas leaking before attempting to light it, don’t use it.
  • Stow the canisters, used or unused and the stove if it has a canister inserted, in a self-draining gas locker, or on an open deck where any escaping gas can flow overboard.

Using gas cylinders on boats

If you are using a gas cylinder on a boat:

  • Install a gas detection system, if possible.
  • When changing cylinders, make sure all cylinder valves are turned off before disconnecting.
  • Regularly hand-pump bilges (the enclosed areas at the inner bottom of the hull) to remove potential low-lying vapours.
  • Keep the cabin well ventilated to avoid build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas which is created when fossil fuels such as gas, coal and wood fail to combust correctly i.e. due to a lack of oxygen. You can’t see CO, taste it or smell it, therefore it can kill quickly with no warning.

We recommend you install a CO alarm on your boat. These alarms should be installed and located in accordance with manufacturers instructions. A CO alarm will alert you to poisonous carbon monoxide. It should be marked to EN 50291 and have the British Standards' Kitemark or another European approval organisation's mark on it.

What Next?

Doing DIY
Gas Safe Register advises that you don't DIY with gas. Find out why.

Fit a carbon monoxide alarm
A carbon monoxide alarm will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in the air.

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Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms

  • headaches
  • dizziness 
  • nausea 
  • breathlessness 
  • collapse
  • loss of consciousness

Find out more about carbon monoxide poisoning