Sure, boating can be loads of fun but it can also be seriously dangerous. There’s a lot that can go wrong on and around a boat, and propeller strikes are one of them. Yes, someone can actually get hit by your propeller, especially if you’re not paying attention.
Considered a potentially life threatening accident, propeller strikes aren’t as rare as you might think. So to make sure you don’t become a part of the statistics, it’s important to understand what is the best way to protect people in the water against propeller strikes.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent a Propeller Strike in the Water?
While it might seem a little simple, the best way to prevent a propeller strike in the water would be to just keep your eyes open. Being vigilant of your surroundings and paying attention to the conditions around you can significantly reduce the chances of a propeller strike. It’s also important that you turn off your engine especially if there’s no need to keep it on.
The Specifics of Propeller Strike Prevention
Although a propeller strike might seem inevitable, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of this potential danger. According to studies, a lack of awareness of the immediate surroundings can make propeller strikes all the more likely. That’s why it’s important that you constantly check your environment to see if there are any people around your vessel that might get hit by your prop.
Another thing to remember is that a running engine is one of the prerequisites for a prop strike. That said, if people are boarding or disembarking your vessel, you’re going to want to make sure that your engine is turned off.
If you’re navigating through waters where there might be lots of people swimming or boarding and disembarking their own boats, then you’re going to want to practice some extra caution as you maneuver around them. If necessary, you might even want to announce your presence by honking or shouting since not everyone will sense when there’s a watercraft nearby.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that people won’t get hit by a boat propeller unless they’re in the water. Falling overboard seriously increase the risk, especially because the conditions for getting tossed over the rails might also entail a little bit of chaos on or around the boat.
Do what you can to prevent your passengers from falling overboard. Some of these safety practices include:
Why It’s Important to Practice Caution
Propeller strikes are no laughing matter. Statistics from the US Coast Guard reveal that propeller strikes cause anywhere between 28 to 47 deaths in a year. Annually, there are about 185 to 265 propeller strike accidents reported to the USCG.
Although the Coast Guard does claim that their figures are close to exact, they do admit that there are lots of boating accidents that go unreported. For that reason, there’s no way to confirm for sure how many people die and are injured as a result of propeller strikes each year.
There are lots of things that could go wrong after a boat propeller strike. According to the US Coast Guard, the accident can result to any of the following:
Propeller strikes can be seriously inconvenient and dangerous, and there’s a lot more that you can expect aside from just injury. Hitting someone with your prop can cause serious damage to your hardware, and may result to several thousands of dollars worth of repairs. There have also been instances of boats being completely destroyed after a propeller hit, especially if the water conditions were less than ideal.
How Swimmers Can Prevent Propeller Strikes in the Water
The responsibility of preventing propeller strikes doesn’t solely depend on the guy steering the boat. People in the water are equally responsible for minimizing the risk for this sort of accident.
Some of the things swimmers can do to help curb the dangers include:
Wearing a Life Jacket
While it definitely won’t keep you out of a propeller’s way, a life jacket can make you more visible on the water. Wearing a bright, reflective life vest or PFD can make it easier for boaters to spot you and steer clear of you if they’re headed your way.
Keeping an Emergency Whistle at the Ready
Sometimes, it’s not enough to wear a bright colored PFD. If you think that you still might be tough to spot on the waves, you can always use a whistle to let people know where you are. Some PFD’s come with a whistle attached to one of the shoulders, making it easier for you to alert others that you’re there.
Swim Out of the Way
Giving way is a two person job. While boats and watercrafts might be trying to steer clear of you, it’s important that you also try to move out of their way. The greater the distance between you and the boat, the less chances of getting hit by their prop.
Avoiding a Prop Strike
Propeller strikes can be seriously dangerous not only to your boat, but to the people around you. So what is the best way to protect people in the water against propeller strikes? Well, it’s a two way street. While boat operators should be responsible for their passengers and their vessel, swimmers should see to it that they do what they can to stay out a boat’s way. In doing so, both swimmers and boaters can keep the waters safe and minimize the risk for these tragic accidents.