Within a split second, a fun day on the water can turn into tragedy.
There are obvious risks associated with boating, but few people give much thought to one of the greatest hazards: the propeller.
Did you know, a typical recreational boat propeller can travel from head-to-toe on a person in less than one-tenth of a second? According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 175 propeller injuries and 24 fatalities in 2016.
It is important for all boaters to know propeller safety. Most of these incidents are preventable. As a boat owner or operator, it is your first responsibility to keep passengers safe.
- Always know where the motor shutoff switch is located.
- Before cranking up the engine, check the propeller area of your boat and surrounding areas. Sometimes people are not visible while in the water, near the prop. This is especially true when at the helm. Always double check!
- Turn off engine when passengers are entering or exiting your boat. The propeller may still being spinning while at idle. Again, be sure to turn off the engine.
- Be alert when operating in congested areas where boats are towing skiers or tubers. Never enter swimming zones. Swimmers can be hard to see, pay extra attention when people may be in the water.
- Never allow passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs, or any other locations where they might fall overboard.
- If a person falls overboard, stop immediately. Never reverse the boat to pick them up. This can suck the passenger right into the prop. It is best to keep eyes on the person and approach them slowly. Be sure to turn off your engine before trying to bring the person on board.
- Also, a good safety precaution is to educate passengers on propeller dangers and proper steps to avoid them.