Understanding the Danger of Propeller Strikes
In the news recently was a report of a man who was tubing getting severely injured when his leg was hit by the propeller of the boat that was pulling him. That urged me to remind all boaters of the danger of propeller strikes.
Did you know?
- A typical three-blade propeller running at 3,200 rpm can inflict 160 impacts in one second.
- A typical recreational propeller can travel from head to toe on an average person in less than one tenth of a second.
- Most propeller accidents CAN be prevented!
What Can You Do?
- Wear your engine cut-off switch lanyard and your life jacket at ALL times. If the lanyard is removed from the switch, the engine will shut off.
- Assign a passenger to keep watch around the propeller area of your boat when people are in the water.
- Consider purchasing propeller safety devices for your boat.
- Before starting your engine, walk to the stern and look in the water to make certain there is no one near your propeller (people near the propeller may not be visible from the helm).
- Never allow passengers to board or exit your boat from the water when engine(s) are running - even at idle and in neutral your propeller may continue to spin.
- Educate passengers about the location and danger of the propeller(s).
- Call attention to and discuss any propeller waning labels around your boat.
- Be especially alert when operating in congested areas and never enter swimming zones.
- Take extra precautions near boats that are towing skiers or tubers.
- Never permit passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs, or other locations where they might fall overboard.
- Children should be watched carefully while onboard.
- Establish clear rules for swim platform use, boarding ladders, and seating (if possible, passengers should remain seated at all times).
- If someone falls overboard, STOP! Then slowly turn the boat around, and keep the person in sight as you approach. Assign a passenger to continuously monitor the person in the water. Turn your engine off FIRST and then bring the person to safety.
- NEVER reverse your boat to pick someone up out of the water. If necessary, go around again.
A variety of safety devices are available to help prevent propeller strikes:
- Wireless cut off switches
- Propeller guards
- Ringed propellers
- Propulsion alternatives (jet drive)
- Anti-feedback steering