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Course Outline

Boater helping another passenger board; while the operator is behid the wheel. Inset shows that the engine is off.

Most propeller accidents can be prevented if operators follow a few simple safety practices.

  • Turn off the engine when passengers are boarding or disembarking. Propellers should not be spinning when a passenger is in a vulnerable situation.
  • Prevent passengers from being thrown overboard accidentally.
    • Never start a boat with the engine in gear.
    • Never ride on a seat back, gunwale, transom, or bow.
    • Make sure all passengers are seated properly before getting underway. Some operators cause injuries by putting the engine in gear while people are still swimming or diving from the boat.
    • Assign a responsible adult to watch any children in the boat and sound the alarm if a child falls overboard.
  • Maintain a proper lookout for people in the water. The primary cause of propeller strike accidents is operator inattention or carelessness.
    • Slow down when approaching congested areas and anchorages. In congested areas, always be alert for swimmers and divers.
    • Learn to recognize warning buoys that mark swimming and other hazardous areas.
    • Keep the boat away from marked swimming and diving areas. Become familiar with the red flag with a white diagonal stripe and the blue-and-white “Alfa” flag—both signal that divers are down.
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