Safety Tips

Court Mast demonstrates sensors which can detect flooding in various parts of a hull | photo by Julan Pekkain | post by Larry Clinton

At the invitation of East Pier Dock Rep Carole Angermeir, Court Mast of West Pier conducted a safety seminar in January─just in time for the winter storms.

Here are some tips Court distributed at the meeting. Other discussion topics included emergency procedures and tools for assessing any special emergency skills or equipment belonging to dock neighbors.

Safety Tips for Floating Home Living

FIRE SAFETY – please…

  • Do not dump ashes in the garbage/recycling dumpsters as they tend to catch FIRE
  • No open flames on the dock
  • Do not use planter boxes as ashtrays or drop cigarettes butts on the dock
  • Make sure your fire extinguishers are full and up to date
  • Install/maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Plan escape route for high and low tides in case of fire
  • Attend dock fire emergency training (CERT Captains will post dates on dock notice boards)


  • Do not flush anything down the toilet EXCEPT toilet paper. Holding tank pumps are easily jammed and can cause tanks to overflow. Kleenex and dental floss are especially troublesome for holding tanks


  • If electricity is out do not run water (no showers, no dishwashing, and no flushing toilets). Pee and poo are OK for a couple of hours, but DON’T FLUSH! It is important to let renters, visitors and cleaning crews know about this as holding tanks can fill to overflowing without the electric pump working!
  • Switch off all circuit breakers, except one (preferably a hall light breaker), to prevent a power surge when electricity service is resumed
  • When using candles or oil lamps make sure they are low-profile, and are contained and extinguished before you retire to bed or leave the boat
  • Do not use generators or BBQs inside boat as toxic fumes will build up to dangerous levels

UTILITIES – please…

  • Know where your water, gas and electricity shut-offs are located
  • Know where your interior circuit breaker box is located


  • Install and/or inspect hull water sensors
  • Install and/or inspect holding tank high-water-level alarm
  • Inspect boat lines for wear & tear
  • Inspect pilings to determine if replacement or repair needed. Look for softness near the mud
  • Tie down loose items such as deck chairs, tables and planter boxes that will blow away in storms
  • Inspect exterior hoses for leaks—water, gas, sewer and electrical. Use binoculars at low tide
  • Inspect interior washing machine and hoses for leaks. Replace plastic or rubber hoses with metal braided hoses. Install and/or inspect water sensors near washing machines

DOCK SAFETY – please…

  • Do not encroach more than 3 planks deep each side of the dock from railing into the walkway (emergency crews need clear access to the center of the dock)
  • Do not obstruct gas meter boxes.
  • Do not obstruct dock lighting (report any outages to Harbor Master)
  • No motorized vehicles on walkway
  • Do not leave bicycles on walkway side of dock railing


  • Report to the Harbor Master any sewage leaks or oil and fuel spills in the water

GARBAGE and RECYCLING – please recycle

  • Garbage & recycling dumpsters are located in the shed at the entrance of the dock
  • Break down cardboard boxes and leave at the proper location at the dumpster
  • Construction debris should not be placed in dock dumpster. This material should be taken to the dump, or it can be placed in the large dumpster located outside Harbor Master’s office
  • Appliances and large items like mattresses should be taken to the dump or recycling center in San Rafael for disposal


  • Check dock bulletin board for high tide and storm notices. Move cars to higher ground, like Gate 6 Rd.

Court is willing to give this seminar on other docks as well. If you’re interested, contact him at  415 296-8300 or