WASHINGTON – Each year boat propellers are a leading cause of boating accidents. In many cases, the victims were in the water and near the stern of the vessel.
Passengers moving around a boat or improperly seated may fall overboard when the vessel is moving too fast for prevailing conditions. People can be ejected from a boat for a variety of reasons including, a collision with another boat, hitting a submerged object, rogue waves, and sudden acceleration/deceleration in speed.
Contributing factors to propeller strikes accidents are operator inexperience, incompetence, negligence, and operating under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Bow and transom riding are also inherently dangerous.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary suggests turning the engine off and keeping the boat tied to the dock while passengers are boarding or disembarking. The vessel operator should alert passengers prior to speed change or when large waves are imminent. While a boat is underway everyone should be seated and wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
Steps to take for a Man Overboard situation
A person seeing someone fall overboard should shout "Man Overboard Port or Starboard side (left or right will do)"
Throw a life ring, life jacket or other floatable device to the person.
Turn the boat toward the side the person fell overboard.
Circle around keeping the individual in sight.
Slow down. Turn the engine off at least a boat length away to avoid propeller strike.
Bring the person aboard and render first aid as needed, checking for additional injuries.
The American Boating Association
PO Box 690
New Market, MD 21774