Can Drone Propellers Hurt You?

Drones are the new-age toys loved by kids and adults alike. But is there a safety angle to these tiny crafts?

To be more specific – can drone propellers hurt you? The short and obvious answer is yes. The sharp, rapidly spinning drone blades are capable of causing serious injuries, especially if the drone is large in size.

Does that mean we stop using them? Of course not! As with all gifts that technology has bestowed upon us, caution is key here, too.

As a drone enthusiast and dad of a five-year-old, safety is a key concern for me. So, I did some research on the propeller’s mechanics and the do’s and don’ts to make drone flying a safe experience for me and the people around me.

How Drone Propellers Work

Can Drone Propellers Hurt You?

To understand if drone propellers can hurt you, it makes sense to understand how they function.

When propellers spin using the force from the motor, they create an air pressure difference between the top and bottom of the propeller.

When the air pressure below the propellers becomes high, it provides a thrust to the drone that lifts it up.

This spinning motion not only lifts the drone but also pushes it forward and provides stability.

Depending on a drone’s size, drone propeller speed varies between 8000 rpm to 9000 rpm. But it’s not just the speed that matters. The size and material of the blade are important, too.

The blade size is proportional to the drone’s size. It is also directly proportional to the injury! A larger surface area can cause more than a few cuts when spinning at high speeds.

The material of the blade also determines its risk potential. Toy-grade drones usually have cheap plastic blades that can, at best, cause some scratches.

But the carbon fiber blades are capable of giving you some deep cuts if you are not careful.

What Are The Potential Dangers Posed By Drone Propellers?

From petty scratches to nasty gashes, drone propeller injuries have quite a range! I’ve seen some pretty bad accidents in my drone racing club.

I particularly remember the one time that a drone operator lost communication with their drone due to a malfunction.

Their drone lost stability and injured a fellow operator. We had to rush them to the hospital as they suffered severe injuries to their head and face. Luckily, the eyes were spared!

The danger from drones varies depending on the type of drone you are flying. Let’s understand:

·    Toy Drones: Toy-grade drones are designed keeping children in mind and are thus the safest.

Since they can only fly between 50-100 metres, the plastic blades do not spin at high speeds and are incapable of causing serious injuries.

·    Hobby Drones: Depending on the set-up, weight, and blade material, hobby-grade drones are capable of serious damage.

Beginner’s drones that have weak motors and slow propellers are enough to cause deep cuts that may require stitches.

·    Racing Drones: These drones are built for speed and performance and are potentially the most dangerous.

If a racer drone like the Hawk 5 hits you full throttle, it can slice right through your flesh!

That said, it would be unwise to look at drones as some mean killing machine. As long as we follow drone propeller safety guidelines, drone accidents are a rarity and easily avoidable.

Safety Measures To Prevent Drone Propeller Accidents

As per a report I came across during my research, there have been approximately 4,250 drone injuries between 2015 and 2020. The most common type was lacerations, with the upper extremities taking the brunt in most cases.

Below are some injury examples of drone propeller accidents from the same report:

–  “21-month-old female patient was hit in the right eye by a drone.”

–  “40-year-old male patient hit in the head by a flying drone in the street.”

–  “31-year-old male patient playing with a drone and caught finger in blades, had lacerations to finger.”

All or some of these could perhaps have been avoided by following basic safety measures. Here’s what you can do for preventing drone injuries and accidental damage when operating drones:

1. If your drone isn’t fitted with propeller guards, then make haste and purchase them!

These guards serve the dual purpose of drone propeller injury prevention and safeguarding the gearbox from damage in case of collision.

2. Avoid carbon fiber blades as they are stiffer as compared to plastic ones. While they are definitely more durable, they are also riskier.

3. Never attempt to catch a drone while the blades are still spinning. Regardless of the speed, the blades are sure to hurt your arms and fingers.   

I know of someone who stuck their hands into the propeller of their Mavic because their drone was about to crash land. The sight of their severed fingers was definitely not worth saving the drone!

Therefore, you may want to consider buying a drone landing pad just to be on the safe side and prevent unnecassary injuries.

4. Fly your drone in calm and clear weather only. Fog, rain, or wind can cause you to lose control of the drone and lead to accidental collisions and injuries.

5. Select areas away from people and buildings such as schools when taking your drone for a spin.

Knowing the potential dangers of drone propellers, precaution is the best measure you can take to prevent unfortunate accidents.  

6. During flight, the propeller blades and bayonets are subject to strong force. Therefore, one must always run a visual check after each flight to assess the worn-out parts.

Any chips and cracks may cause malfunction and must be replaced immediately.

7. Always read the user manual thoroughly. Even if you are a seasoned drone operator, it is advised to read the guide to understand the safety signals.

Legal Implications And Regulations Regarding Drone Use

Legal Implications And Regulations Regarding Drone Use

As recreational drone flyers, most of us are seldom aware of the drone propeller regulations.

All drones, whether commercial or recreational, fall under the 14 CFR Part 107, referred to as the Small UAS Rule.

However, for drones meant purely for recreational purposes, there is a limited statutory exception to the rules.

Those flying under these exceptions, too, have to follow some legal aspects of drone operation to ensure safety.

These rules clearly prohibit pilots from flying drones over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, as well as sensitive infrastructure or property such as airports, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.

Besides, you are required to always keep the craft in sight during operation. There is an ocean of information on this website to help drone owners avoid unpleasant incidents and fly within legal guidelines.

I found it super-useful! Do share with your kids or fellow drone enthusiasts for a safer flying experience.

Conclusion

Summing up, the spinning blades of a drone propeller need to be taken seriously. Sticking your fingers into a rotating drone is definitely a no-no.

But besides this obvious way of hurting yourself, there can be some unintentional accidents as well caused by loss of control or malfunction.

It is best to adhere to drone safety guidelines and leave nothing to chance. Since technical glitches are not always in our control, we can fly our drones away from populated areas and steer clear of bad weather.

As long as you fly your craft within the realms of responsibility while ensuring public safety with drones, there shouldn’t be much to worry about. So, fly away but with responsible measures as your safety net.

FAQ

1. Which type of propeller guard is best for drones?

Frame mount guards are the most common and offer maximum protection to the drone.

2. Do propellers require regular cleaning?

The dirt and debris accumulated on your propellers may cause them to lock up midair. Hence, it is advisable to frequently check and clean the propellers with a soft cloth.

3. How fast is a drone propeller?

Propellers spin at speeds between 8000 to 9000 rpm. This translates to approximately 150 revolutions per second.

4. Can drone propellers hurt people?

Absolutely, there have been plenty of cases where innocent bystanders became the victim of an overhead drone.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *