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Accidents > Boat Propeller Accidents




(1) Boat propeller injuries have been described:

“motor propellers can inflict severe, devastating injuries that result in death, loss of extremities, and severe permanent deformity, disfigurement, and/or disability”

“the injuries surpass by far those seen in other motor vehicle accidents, and some authors (Hummel) compare the resulting wounds with those seen on the battlefield.”

Dr. Miguel Menedez-Fernandez, “Motorboat Propeller Injuries” Annual of Plastic Surgery, l998, quoting from published accounts by Doctors Gomez, Kutarski, Price, Moorefield, Hummel, and Mann

(2) The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Office of Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) has looked at this problem since 1978 when a statistician suggested a propeller guard could provide protection in 600 to 3000 propeller accidents per year.

(3) The l989 National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) sub-committee report looked at the universal application of propeller guards and felt they were not suitable for all boats, and therefore recommended them for no boats. Instead they recommended “the most rational approach to the problem is to educate boaters, especially operators.” Seventeen years later, there is no education standard to teach propeller accident prevention.

(4) The USCG Office of RBS statistics – fatalities and injuries.

2002 - 239 struck by propeller reflected a 19% probability of fatality and represented 4.0% of all fatalities and injuries.

2003 - 266 struck by propeller reflected a 12% probability of fatality and represented 5.0% of all fatalities and injuries.

2004 - 186 struck by propeller reflected a 17% probability of fatality and represented 4.0 % of all fatalities and injuries.

(5) The National Association State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) comment in 2002 on NPR 2001-10163 supported education and legislative efforts in lieu of mandatory guards. This standard would address this alternative.

(6) Since l978 a disproportionate number of children have been victims to propeller strikes and an increasing number of rental boats (13%) are involved. According to the USCG 2002-2004 statistics, houseboat and pontoon rentals represent 39% of all rentals involved.

(7) The USCG statistics, 2002-2004, determined the most at risk boats: outboards (51%) and sterndrive (30%) and targeted the most at risk boat lengths from 16 to 26 feet.

IT IS WHAT YOU KNOW .... sometimes

1. Know that a 13" propeller blade can travel from head to toe on an average person in less than one tenth of a second. A typical three-blade propeller, running at 3200 rpms can inflict 9600 impacts in one minute or 160 impacts in one second. Dr. Mendez-Fernandez "Motorboat Propeller Injuries." Annual Plastic Surgery, l998; 41:113-118.

2. Know that too many children die of this accident or are disfigured for life. Your children are supposed to outlive you. According to SPIN research only, in the summer of 2004, more than 50% of the deaths/injuries by propeller were children 17 and under. In 2005, more than 35% of the deaths/injuries by propeller, from data available to SPIN research, were children 18 and under.

3. Know what propels your boat. As in Carbon Monoxide (CO) deaths, what you cannot see can harm or kill you or your loved ones. Show ALL your passengers where the propeller is located. Indicate the location with bold warning labels. The State of Utah has the most dramatic label message for propeller and CO and generously provides them, upon request (Utah State Parks and Recreation 801-538-7341). SPIN also distributes these labels. Locate the propeller in relationship to the boarding ladder.

4. Know that once you are in the way of the spinning propeller, it is no longer what you know, it is TOO LATE.


Experienced and inexperienced, educated and uneducated, old and young, swimmers, boaters, operators and passengers, divers, PWC riders. EVERYONE! 

If you or a loved one has been injured by boat propeller please contact us at 1-800-780-2686 or use the form to the right.

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Boat Propeller Accidents
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