Boating and Propeller Safety

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Did you know that a typical 3-blade propeller runs at 3,200 rpm? It can inflict 160 impacts each second.

A typical propeller from recreation vessel can travel from the head to the toe on a person in less than 1/10 of a second.

However, most of the propeller accidents can be avoided by following these guidelines for the best in propeller safety.

Measures of Prevention

boat propeller

There is an engine cut off lanyard that can be clipped and worn on a life jacket. If the lanyard is pulled from the switch, the engine shuts off automatically.

You should also have a person keep watch of the propeller area to ensure that people are a safe distance from it while in the water.

Safety Tips

  • Before you start the engine, walk to the back of your boat to ensure that there is no one near the propeller. People that are in the water may not be visible from the wheel.
  • Never allow your passengers to board or even exit the boat from the water when the engine is running. Even when it is in idle or in neutral, the propeller may spin.
  • Educate all of your passengers about the location, as well as the danger, of the propeller.
  • Call attention to, as well as discuss, any labels around the boat.
  • Be alert when you are operating the boat in congested areas. Never enter any swimming zones.
  • Take additional care when you have a skier being pulled behind your boat.
  • Never permit any passengers to ride on the gunwale, bow, seat backs, transom or anything that is not specifically designed to be a seat. They may fall overboard.
  • Children should always be watched very carefully.
  • Establish rules for the swimming platform, seating and boarding ladders.
  • If someone should fall overboard, stop immediately. Keep the person in sight, and move extremely slowly. Assign another passenger to continuously monitor the person in the water. Turn your engine off, and then you can bring the person on board.

Safety Equipment that Should be Used

  • Wireless Cut Off Switches
  • Guards for the Propeller
  • Ringed Propellers
  • Interlocks
  • Sensors
  • Anti-Feedback Steering

Propeller Guards Include

There are many different models of propeller guards.

No matter what brand it is, when you have a boat that you take your family on, you need a guard or cage to ensure that no one receives any injuries or worse.

Here are a few of the guards that are available.

  • Holton Marine Ltd: It is a ring guard that has holes in the side of its ring and bars to the rear of it.
  • Hydro Shield: This is a type of propeller guard that is mounted below the prop.
  • LyfGard Propeller Deflector: This is a deflector propeller guard.

For more information check out this safety pamphlet from the United States Coast Guard by clicking here.


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Glenn S. Phillips is the CEO of Lake Homes Realty. He is also an author and speaker. When not thinking about real estate and technology, he periodically plays his ugly tuba (complete with a bullet hole), enjoys exploring cognitive thinking, and prefers dark chocolate.

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