Harbormaster are joining forces to educate the public of the hazards of living aboard boats
during the winter.
Authorities speculate that in today’s economic climate, people who once lived aboard their
boats only during the warm months and rented homes during the winter, may now choose
to live aboard year round. Emergency officials have reached out to marinas in Maine to
identify the number of people who plan to live on their boats this winter.
Coast Guard Capt. James McPherson, the commander of Sector Northern New England,
stresses that the dangers of living aboard boats during the winter are real. “But if you take
time now to prepare, you can safely enjoy the winter on the water,” he said.
He said the primary dangers include carbon monoxide poisoning and fires from using small
heaters in confined spaces. “The likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning is greater during
the winter because the boats will be covered in shrink wrap to protect them from the
winter elements,” he said. This, he said, prevents adequate ventilation.
South Portland Fire Chief Kevin Guimond urges live-aboard residents to tell local emergency
responders where their boats are docked for the winter and to mark them accordingly.
“Our paramedics and firefighters can’t help you if we can’t find you,” he said.
Portland Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne also expressed concern for live-aboard residents this
winter. “We want to make sure people are aware of the extra precautions they need to
take once their boats are winterized.” LaMontagne said live-aboards should make sure they
have working carbon monoxide detectors installed. “And fire extinguishers should be positioned
throughout the boats and easily accessible in an emergency,” he said. He said liveaboard
residents should also file emergency response plans with the marina and their local
Jeff Liick, Portland’s Harbor Master said that although living on the water in Maine is enjoyable,
it is especially challenging during the winter. “By taking the time now to talk about
some of the specific challenges that winter brings, we hope to make everyone as prepared
as possible,” he said.