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Take Care, be Prop Aware

The most dangerous thing in the water is not what you think.

Boat propellers pose a risk that can be easily ignored or forgotten because they are under the water, ‘out of sight and out of mind’. But a strike from a spinning propeller can cause serious injury or even death.

A typical three bladed propeller:

  • Spins at around 3200 rpm.

  • Can make more than 100 impacts per second.

  • Can travel from head to toe of an average person in less than one tenth of a second, causing multiple deep wounds.

Boat propeller injuries, if not fatal, are usually severe and disfiguring, resulting in prolonged disability and permanent impairment.

Propeller Safety Tips:

Here are some tips that skippers should do to avoid injuring a person in the water:

  • Inspect the area near the back of the boat to ensure the area is clear before starting the engine.

  • Turn the engine off near people in the water even when retrieving a skier as some propellers may continue to spin even in neutral.

  • Make sure your passengers are aware of the dangers.

  • Keep a proper lookout at all times, especially when near swimmers, snorkelers, divers or any other activity.

  • Stay out of designated swimming areas.

  • Look out for dive flags and keep 50 metres clear.

  • Attach a propeller guard.

  • Keep all arms and legs inside the boat and not over the bow, sides or stern at all times. This is not only dangerous but also illegal.

The skipper of every boat is responsible for the safety of their passengers, so every skipper should be vigilant and consider the area around the prop as a hazard zone.

Skippers are encouraged to put a “Take Care, be Prop Aware” sticker on the transom of their boat, as a reminder to everyone onboard of the hidden dangers of spinning propellers. To obtain a sticker, visit your nearest Department of Transport office or call 13 11 56 and one will be sent to you. Or pop down to Marine Rescue (ring first - 9652 1950) for a sticker.

(Information courtesy of Department of Transport).

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