|Propeller Safety - What You Don't Know Can Hurt You|
Table of Contents:
Take a moment to test your knowledge with the following quiz.
1.) If a passenger falls overboard from your boat, you should do which of the following:
a. Slowly reverse, keeping the individual in sight at all times. Stop within five feet and allow the person to swim to the side of the boat.
b. Stop the boat. Allow the boater to swim to the side of the vessel and slowly pull the person to safety.
c. Stop. Slowly turn the boat around and approach while keeping the passenger in sight. Shut off the engine and then bring the individual to safety.
2). True or False.
It is safe for passengers to board or to exit from the water if engines are idling.
3). Fill in the blank:
A ________________ will stop a propeller should the driver of the boat be thrown overboard or pulled away from the boat's controls.
If you hesitated to answer even one of the questions above, you may be putting lives in danger. NEVER reverse your boat to pick up a passenger. Always stop, turn around and shut off the engine before pulling someone to safety. It is NEVER safe to board or to exit from the water while engines are idling because the propeller may continue to spin even when the boat is in neutral. And finally, an engine cut-off switch can save the driver's life, should the individual be thrown from the boat.
What exactly is an engine cut-off switch? Most often it is a lanyard connected to the driver and to a switch on the control panel or dashboard. Let's say you're suddenly thrown overboard after an encounter with rough water or an accident on your boat. The second the lanyard device is pulled from its receptacle, the engine shuts off. Why is this important? If you're thrown overboard - and the engine is still running - you are at serious risk for a propeller strike. Wireless devices are also available in which an electronic device worn by the driver - and sometimes by other occupants - takes the place of a lanyard.
A typical, three-blade propeller running at 3,200 RPM can inflict 160 cuts in one second, by traveling from head to toe on an average person in less than one tenth of a second. Propeller safety is not something to be taken lightly.
As a boat operator, you are responsible for every aspect of the boat, just as the driver of a car is responsible for that vehicle at all times. Safe drivers know to always be on the look out for pedestrians, especially in populated, urban environments. Similarly, safe boaters know to watch out for people in the water.
The best rule of thumb regarding your propeller is: don't run the engine when people are near the boat. Be alert for other boaters engaged in towing sports like tubing, wakeboarding, etc., and take every precaution to avoid them.
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The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons, or your state boating agency's Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to "Boat Responsibly!" For more tips on boating safety, visit www.uscgboating.org.
Simple Steps Can Make a Difference
• There are several things you can do to minimize the risk of propeller injury:
• Personally look at the area around your boatï¿½s propeller before starting the engine. Donï¿½t count on others. See for yourself.
• Before you set out for the day, take a moment to inform your passengers of the locations and the dangers of the propellers, and call attention to any propeller warning labels around your boat.