Alongside lifejackets, kill cords are one of the most important pieces of equipment on small power boats. A kill cord is a coiled red lanyard that has a quick release mechanism attached to the console which stops the boat in the event of the driver becoming dislodged. Proper use of the device can prevent serious incidents and even fatalities - the value in wearing kill cords is highlighted by this tragic incident: BBC News.
The RYA has some useful information about their kill cords on the website. Their recommendations are summarised here:
- The RYA recommends that the kill cord be attached around your leg. It should not foul the steering or gear controls.
- The RYA does not recommend extending the length of the kill cord provided by the manufacturer of the engine.
- Always check your kill cord works at the start of each day or session and check it regularly for signs of wear.
- When replacing kill cords, purchase a good quality lanyard with a strengthening cord through the middle.
- Do not leave kill cords out in the elements. Extremes of temperature and UV light will harm the lanyard in the long term.
- If your lanyard has a fabric outer sheath, but has lost its spiral tension, it is advisable to replace it as it is possible that the inner strengthening cord may be damaged.
- Keep a spare kill cord on board