Safety on Board


Listen to the skipper’s orders. They are for your safety and the safety of the boat. They could save your life.


No running in or around the boat.


Arms and legs are to be kept inside the boat at all times. Most canal boats are built to take the knocks and scrapes, but people are fragile creatures compared to the weight of a 17 Tonne steel narrowboat.


When leaving the boat, step off carefully. Do not jump while the boat is moving. Be careful while getting back on too and step on at the stern end of the boat if possible.


Falling overboard is very dangerous. If it happens raise the alarm so that everyone, particularly the skipper, knows what has happened. The engine will be put out of gear and the rescue carried out using life rings or throw lines. If it is you in the water, try to keep calm and listen carefully to the instructions from the skipper.


Lifejackets and buoyancy aids are important items of personal safety equipment. They will be worn by everyone on board at the skipper’s discretion, by all young people when on deck and while working locks, and by all non swimmers where there is a likelihood of falling in.


In the event of fire raise the alarm. Attempt to put the fire out if possible with the fire extinguishers or the fire blanket. If the boat is under way, the skipper will bring the boat into the side. Move to the end of the boat and when you are able to, leave in an orderly fashion. Call the fire brigade. Keep at a safe distance bearing in mind the risk of explosion of the gas carried for cooking.


At locks, be aware the potential dangers. No unnecessary getting on and off the boat, running or playing around. When you draw the paddles use the safety catch. Take care of the windlass and make sure that you remove it from the spindle after use. Raise the ground paddles first. Lower the paddle gently. In an emergency, inform the skipper and wind the paddles down quickly.


In tunnels, no member is allowed on the roof or the gunwales. You must keep within the profile of the boat - no arms or legs over the side. No screaming and shouting except in an emergency. Do not point torches or flash guns at the steerer. Put the interior lights on. Do not block the tunnel lights. Do not cook while in the tunnel.