Propellers play a vital role in propulsion for many types of boats, but they can be extremely dangerous for people who get too close to them in the water. They can easily cause severe injuries and even prove fatal, so it’s important to take steps to minimize the risks.
Find out how boat propeller accidents occur and how they can be prevented in this article from the experts at Drive a Boat Canada.
A boat propeller strike is a type of accident where spinning propeller blades hit a human in the water. Propellers generally spin at a rate of 1,200 to 3,200 RPM, meaning that anyone who comes into contact with the blades may be hit as many as 160 times per second.
Propellers present a serious danger for anyone in the water nearby, including swimmers, divers, water-skiers and people who fall overboard. Spinning propellers pull water down and in towards the centre of the boat, meaning that anyone too close to the stern may get caught in the hydrodynamic flow and pulled into the path of the blades.
One of the worst-case scenarios, called the “circle of death”, occurs when the boat operator falls overboard and loses steering control. In such cases, the rotation of the propellers may cause the boat to turn in a circle, trapping and/or running over its operator in the water.
Fortunately, there are many steps that can be taken to prevent boat propeller accidents:
In addition to the safety measures listed above, there are several types of devices that can be used to help prevent propeller strikes:
The best way to stay safe while boating is to be aware of the dangers involved and actively take steps to reduce risk. That’s why Canadian law requires prospective operators to take a safety course and pass a boating exam online or in person before getting out on the water. Register today to obtain your boating license and find out everything you need to know about boating safety!