The lawn mower is one of the most dangerous household tools. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year 68,000 people are treated in the emergency department for lawn mower related injuries, and 9,000 of them are children under the age of 18. Most childhood injuries due to lawn mowers are related to riding mowers, and most are injured in their own yard.
“One important statistic to remember is that a significant number of these accidents occur among family members,” says Junichi Tamai, M.D., Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery. “Most families think that if the child stays with a family member, everything will be okay, but that is not always the case.”
Most common injuries associated with mowers can include lacerations, amputations, fractures, infections and skin defects.
Dr. Tamai and the American Academy of Pediatrics give the following tips for staying safe around lawn mowers.
- Children younger than 15 should not be in the yard when someone else is mowing
- Children younger than 12 should not use walk-behind mowers
- Children younger than 16 should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers
- Children or adults should never be allowed as passengers on ride-on mowers
The Safe Lawn Mower
- Allows automatic blade disengagement when the mower is placed in reverse
- Has a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is released
- Has a blade safety device for ride-on mowers that disconnects the blade from the power source when the operator leaves the operating position
Operating the Mower
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
- Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas
Protecting Yourself and Others
- Wear hard-soled, sturdy shoes around mowers (no sandals or sneakers)
- Wear hearing and eye protection when operating a mower
- Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins.