During summer vacation, thousands of children across the country take on a familiar chore: mowing the lawn. Safety is always a priority, and three national medical organizations are warning families that the routine task of lawn mowing can be extremely dangerous to children, the operator and those nearby if proper safety precautions aren’t taken.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013 more than 301,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in a clinic or emergency department, or were admitted to the hospital. More than 10,500 of them were children under age 18, and approximately one-third of lawn mower-related injuries were serious enough to be treated in an emergency department.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM) are joining forces to educate adults and children about the importance of lawn mower safety.
“Lawn mower safety should never take a back seat,” said AAOS President Frederick M. Azar, MD. “No matter how small the task, or how often it’s performed, families should always proceed with caution and most importantly seek and share safety tips to help reduce their risk for injury.”
Lawn mower injury prevention tips include:
- Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
- Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a driving lawn mower.
- Wear sturdy shoes with good traction.
- Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower or is in the vicinity wear polycarbonate protective eyewear at all times.
- 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, inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
- Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawn mowers.
- Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.
- Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.
- Keep lawn mowers in good working order. When using a lawn mower for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.