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VOL. 8 NO. 11
Take a class

Prop strike

Take precautions to avoid deadly accidents

Prop strike

Boating accidents involving prop strikes are not uncommon. If you are struck by a boat’s propeller and survive, you will likely be horrifically mangled at the least.

Prop strike accidents often happen to passengers who fall overboard after sitting on the transom or gunwales while a boat is underway. If the boat lurches suddenly, a passenger is gone before the captain can react and cut the engines. A prop strike accident can also occur when a boat operator does not see a person in the water swimming, diving or clamming.

Water sports such as skiing, tubing or wakeboarding put people in the water directly behind the boat’s prop. The smallest lapse of attention can result in tragedy. Many of these accidents result from inexperience, negligence or intoxication, and most can be prevented by following a few simple safety practices:

  • Turn your engines off when passengers are boarding or disembarking.
  • Make sure all passengers stay properly seated while underway. Never ride on a transom, seat back, gunwale or the bow.
  • Assign a responsible adult to watch children in the boat.
  • When towing a water-skier, tuber or wakeboarder, assign a spotter and use hand signals for communication.
  • In congested areas, be alert for swimmers or divers. Learn to recognize warning markers and diver down flags indicating people in the water.
  • The helmsman should use a lanyard attached to the engine kill switch. This is especially important when you are boating alone.

Get first-aid training so you know how to help if someone gets severely injured by a prop strike or other life-threatening accident while underway. You can learn more about how to avoid propeller injuries here.

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