Respect the Propeller

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Powerboats all rely on a motor with a propellor or “prop” as the means for propulsion of the vessel. Whether you’re headed out on your next fishing trip, performing maintenance on your engine, or participating in towed watersports with the family – it’s important to respect the propeller and transom area of any vessel.

According to the 2022 U.S. Coast Guard Accident Statistics Report, there were 173 propeller accidents resulting in 41 deaths and 182 injuries. The use of an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) enables the powerboat engine to immediately shut off if the operator falls overboard. An engine cut-off switch attaches to the boat operator and cuts power to the boat’s engine if the operator is displaced from the helm. It also may be activated manually if needed in an emergency.

With the advancements in technology today, there are several different options for wireless engine cut-off switches. An ECOS may be a lanyard attached to the engine switch, or a boat may be equipped with wireless technology that resembles a key fob or wristband. No matter which type of ECOS you prefer, it’s important to protect yourself, your passengers, and those around you by always using an engine cut-off switch. And, it’s the law.

Although the propeller is a vital component to our enjoyment on the water, we need to always use caution when we are near the transom of any vessel. Make sure to never recreate near the propeller of a powerboat especially when the vessel is underway. Be mindful that props are extremely sharp, and can cause harm, even when performing the simplest routine maintenance.

The Safe Boating Campaign has many great resources available to encourage boaters to use an engine cut-off switch and collectively help make the waterways a safer place. Learn more about engine cut-off switches from our friends at