A kill cord, a safety lanyard or engine cut-off switch, is a vital safety device designed to halt a boat’s engine if the driver loses control or becomes dislodged from the helm. This article explores its components, the correct usage, common misconceptions associated with it, and the importance of checking your kill cord to ensure it works at the start of each day.
The Role of a Kill Cord in Boating Safety
The main function of a kill cord is to keep everyone safe by stopping an unmanned and powered boat from posing a danger to those in the water and nearby areas. If the driver is thrown overboard or moves too far from the console, a quick pull on the lanyard will cause the clip to be pulled from the kill switch, instantly killing the engine. This life-saving mechanism is especially vital for high-speed powerboats or open power boats.
Components of a Kill Cord
A kill cord comprises a lanyard – often a red coiled lanyard, cord length, construction material, UV resistance, a clip, a kill switch, an engine stop mechanism, and an attachment point. The fabric outer sheath is generally robust, resistant to wear and able to withstand harsh marine conditions, such as temperature extremes and UV light. It’s essential to use the cord provided by the manufacturer and ensure that the length allows for comfortable operation of the boat while activating the cord when needed.
Given the various connection types available, ensuring compatibility between your kill cord and your boat’s engine is vital. Outboard manufacturers like Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, Tohatsu, and Mercury provide compatible kill cords for their outboard engines. For example, Evinrude uses a 7-OMC design for its models.
Using and Attaching a Kill Cord and Lanyard
Kill cords should be attached securely to the driver and the designated kill switch in the helm position, preventing the engine from being started without the kill cord. Recommended attachment points include around the leg, wrist, or a personal buoyancy item or clothing. The coiled design allows for natural movement without compromising safety. Clipping it around your wrist or leg ensures that it will release if the driver and kill cord go overboard or if the driver becomes incapacitated.
Switching drivers involves stopping the boat, turning off the engine, unclipping and attaching it to the new driver, and ensuring they understand the controls and safety precautions.
RYA Recommendations and Regular Maintenance
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recommends attaching the cord securely, not modifying its length, inspecting it regularly for signs of wear or damage, and keeping a spare kill cord onboard. Regular inspection and maintenance are crucial to ensure it functions correctly when needed. It’s advised to replace a worn or damaged kill cord promptly.
Wireless Kill Cord Technology
Wireless kill cords, or virtual lanyards, use wireless technology to maintain a connection between the driver and the stop switch, offering enhanced freedom of movement and convenience. However, they rely on batteries and can be more expensive.
Safety Precautions for Drivers
Always attach the kill cord before starting the engine, maintain a firm grip on the helm, and adjust your seating position for clear visibility and stability. Always wear a suitable personal flotation device, and ensure all passengers and crew members understand the purpose and usage of a kill cord.
Common Misconceptions and Mistakes
Some common misconceptions include neglecting to attach it when the boat is in use and misunderstanding that a kill switch can replace a life jacket or personal flotation device. It’s essential to understand that they only serve their purpose when properly attached to both the driver and the switch and that it’s not a substitute for personal flotation devices.
The kill cord is a crucial safety device in boating that can prevent accidents and save lives by stopping the engine when the driver loses control or becomes dislodged from the helm. Proper use, compatibility, and regular maintenance ensure its effectiveness. The RYA’s recommendations, along with understanding and addressing common misconceptions, can significantly improve safety on the water. Remember, they only work when attached securely and are not a substitute for wearing a personal flotation device.
A kill cord, or safety lanyard, is designed to halt a boat’s engine if the driver loses control or becomes dislodged from the helm. It is meant to prevent an unmanned, powered boat from posing a danger to others in the water and surrounding areas.
Kill cords should be attached securely to the driver and the designated kill switch in the helm position. They can be clipped around the leg, wrist, or a personal buoyancy item or clothing.
A kill cord works by being attached to the driver and the boat’s engine cut-off switch. If the driver is thrown overboard or moves too far from the console, the cord gets pulled, activating the kill switch and stopping the engine.
It’s important to ensure compatibility between your kill cord and your boat’s engine. Different outboard manufacturers provide compatible kill cords for their outboard engines.
No, a kill cord is not a substitute for a life jacket or personal flotation device. Its main function is to stop the engine if the driver loses control or becomes dislodged from the helm, but it does not provide buoyancy or help a person float in the water.