A propeller is a three-bladed whirling cutting machine, spinning at 3200 rpm, able to inflict 160 impacts in a second. It is unguarded and extremely dangerous. A propeller can continue to spin after an engine is put into neutral, or even for some time after it is turned off, posing a hazard for swimmers, skiers, and tubers.
Propeller Injuries and Deaths
In an average year (from 2001-2005), approximately “185 to 265 accidents reported to the U.S. Coast Guard annually as boat motor or propeller strikes.” Most of these are likely non-fatal but “28 to 47 people are killed annually” by propeller related accidents in the U.S. each year (from 2001-2005).
Boat propeller injuries, if not fatal, are usually severe and disfiguring resulting in prolonged disability and permanent impairment requiring costly medical, surgical and rehabilitative services.
When struck, even if the initial trauma is not fatal, many of the victims die from infection caused by lake and river water. Those lucky enough to survive are generally left with amputation or other permanently disfiguring injuries.
Devices Designed to Help Prevent Propeller Strikes
Propeller injury avoidance control technologies can be categorized as, guards, alternative propulsion, interlocks, and sensors. Each of these types of technology can be suitable in certain circumstances for particular types of boats.
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