Mowing the lawn is one of summertime's most frequent chores. Unless you practice proper safety precautions - especially for children - it also can be a dangerous chore,.
Last year more than 250,000 people nationwide were treated for lawn mower-related injuries, including nearly 17,000 children.
"Mowers can cause everything from burns to injuries from flying debris to serious cuts and even amputation by cutting blades," said Debbie Helten, RN, pediatric trauma coordinator at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis. "But lawn mower injuries are easily preventable, if you know how to be safe."
Make sure everyone who uses your mower knows and follows these safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Before you begin, pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
- Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or shed. Turn mower off and wait until it has cooled down before refueling.
- No one - adult or child - should come within 20 feet of you and the mower while it is operating.
- Keep children and pets safely in the house or a safe distance away, under adult supervision, while you are mowing.
- Don't allow a child younger than 12 to operate a walking mower.
- Don't allow a child younger than 16 to operate a riding mower.
- Supervise children while they mow and make sure they know how to safely start and stop the mower.
- Use a mower that will stop operating or moving forward if the handle is released.
- Never let a child ride with you on a riding mower.
- Always wear sturdy shoes while mowing - not sandals or sneakers.
- Don't pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary. If you must do so, carefully look for others behind you.
- Always wear eye and hearing protection.
- Disconnect the spark plug before you remove the blade or clean caked-on grass from the underside.