Engine Cut-Off Devices

An engine cut-off device, also known as a kill switch, is an important safety feature on many boats. When used correctly, it can prevent accidents and save lives. This safety device is designed to stop the boat’s engine if the operator is ejected from the boat or falls within the boat, ensuring the vessel doesn’t continue on course without control.

There are primarily two types of engine cut-off devices: tethered (most common) and wireless.

  1. Tethered devices are physically connected to the boat operator. The device is usually attached to the operator’s life jacket, wrist, or belt. If the operator moves too far from the helm, the tether disengages a switch, immediately turning off the engine.
  2. Wireless devices work similarly but use a signal from a device worn by the operator to maintain engine function. If the operator is ejected or falls and moves out of range, the signal is lost, and the engine automatically shuts off.

Whether tethered or wireless, it is crucial to wear the engine cut-off device whenever the boat is underway. For tethered devices, ensure the clip or lanyard is securely attached to your person. For wireless devices, regularly check the battery level to ensure the signal will be maintained.

If an operator is thrown from the boat and the engine isn’t stopped, the boat could continue to operate on its own, posing a risk to the ejected operator and others in the water or on other boats. Also, an unmanned boat could crash into other vessels or structures, causing damage.

An engine cut-off device is especially important for boats that have a significant risk of operator ejection, like personal watercraft (PWCs), high-speed boats, and boats operating in choppy waters.



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