How to Prevent Propeller Strikes
Most propeller strike 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.
- Know the depth of the water to help you avoid running aground or hitting shallow hazards.
- 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.