Safety update

February 1997 Gas cooking systems

This safety update is issued to raise awareness of the potential serious risk to safety on board a vessel where gas cooking systems are used. It provides safe practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved and to alert people to the risk to safety associated with gas stoves.

This safety update is for

  • Owners of recreational craft with gas cooking systems


A gas explosion which blew the top off the cabin of a pleasure vessel and gave the skipper serious head injuries has resulted in a Maritime New Zealand warning on the use of gas stoves on boats. An investigation revealed that at some time previously a nail had pierced a rubber hose which permitted gas to escape and settle at the bottom of the vessel. When the engine was started a spark ignited the gas, causing the explosion.

Safe practice tips

Owners of recreational craft with gas cooking stoves are reminded to take the following precautions:

  • All gas cylinders and valves (regulating and relief) should be properly secured above the deck outside the superstructure, and not within the hull. They should be kept in a position so that any escaped vapour will not reach the bilges, machinery spaces, accommodation, other enclosed spaces, or hot exhaust pipes.
  • All gas cylinders, valves, piping and hoses need protecting from damage, the sun, and heat. In addition, they need to be accessible for regular inspection and maintenance.
  • Continuous-flame devices should not be used and the gas should be turned off at the cylinder as well as at the stove.
  • Adequate ventilation of bilges is vital. It is also recommended that a small exhaust fan is run for a few minutes before lighting any stove in order to exhaust any fumes and draw in fresh air. Remember, that natural ventilation only becomes effective when the boat is under way, or when vents are turned into a good stiff breeze.
  • The use of a gas detector is recommended to indicate the presence of gas but it must be used in conjunction with the precautions outlined above.
  • Precautions should also be taken when petrol is used as fuel as this vapour is also heavier than air and can accumulate in bilges.

Original source content - Boat Notice 021997, February: Gas cooking systems.

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