Understand the Danger of Propeller Strikes - PDF
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 boat, walk to the stern and look in the water to make certain there is no one near your propeller (people near propeller may not be visible from helm).
- Never allow passengers to board or exit your boat from the water when engines are on – or idling (your propeller may continue to spin).
- Educate passengers about the location and danger of the propellers.
- Call attention to and discuss any propeller warning 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, seatbacks, 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. 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
- Anti-feedback steering
Review all options with a marine professional to determine which preventive measures are best for your boat. For a list of devices, visit www.uscgboating.com.
A Survivor's Account
“A series of events led to all three of us being thrown in the water. My husband yelled to warn me the boat was approaching from behind. The propeller slashed my arm, my back, my breast, and continued down to my buttocks and hip, chewing through bone.
The next time I saw my husband he was floating dead in the water, his left leg missing from the knee down. Our guide had also been struck and killed. For them, the propeller caused death. For me it caused much more. Through great will, I am a functioning human being; but I’m still trying to adjust to a completely different life.”