The average lawn will need to be mowed around 30 times over the course of the summer. Mowing the lawn seems like a relatively easy, even mundane, task. However, there are several things that could go wrong, resulting in serious injuries and even death. Those especially vulnerable, and seemingly unlikely, victims are children.
The statistics are shocking, and sadly, the number of cases of lawnmower injuries and fatalities is going up, not down. Per the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation; 75 people are killed, and 20,000 injured; one in five deaths involve a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.”
Twelve years old is the minimum recommended age to start helping mow. However, inexperienced young mowers run a high risk of injury. There are several tips they, and everyone tasked with mowing, should know:
Prevent children under 12 from entering the mowing area at all times.
- Children should never ride with an adult on a mower “for fun”; and
- Children under 12 should be supervised indoors by another adult.
Accidents happen when adults give “rides” to children on riding mowers, or when unsupervised children manage to run to the operator of the lawnmower but that person does not realize that there is a child behind or beside them.
Wear the appropriate clothing.
- Wear safe hard-toed shoes (without laces if possible). Never wear flip flops while mowing; and
- Wear long pants.
While it may be more comfortable to wear shorts and flip-flops to mow, it’s not safe. Mower blades will chop a flip-flop into shreds in a second, and will do the same to your foot. Long pants provide a barrier from projectile debris and to burns from accidental contact with the engine.
Avoid heat and potential for fire.
- Never refill the lawnmower with gas until it cools down completely; and
- Never store a hot mower near a gas can. Let the lawnmower cool off outside before storing it in the garage – away from any gas cans.
A hot lawnmower engine block can reach over 200 °F. Lawnmower exhaust can reach up to 250 °F, so you can burn yourself and the lawnmower could start a fire.
Beware of risk of eye injury from flying particles and debris.
- Wear protective eyewear.
The blades can project loose gravel and other small objects that pass under the blades at speeds up to 200 mph.
Clear the yard of debris before mowing.
- Clear the mowingarea of any objects such as yard tools, twigs/sticks, stones, and toys.
Move anything that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades – this prevents projectile injuries and wear and tear on the blades.
Use safety guards
- Make sure that protective guards, shields, the grasscatcher, and other types of safety equipment are placed properly on the lawn mower; and
- Never use your finger to clean grass from the blade, even when off. Use a stick.
You should have your mower inspected every spring to make sure it is in good condition.