lawn mower safety

Photo credit: 123RF / Mariusz Blach

During summer, in towns all across the U.S., you can hear the steady drone of lawn mowers trimming the grass. Often, the chore of mowing the lawn is the responsibility of children and teens. But lawn mowing can be a dangerous task if kids don’t know about lawn mower safety precautions. Heck – even if adults mow the lawn, children can become injured if proper safety precautions aren’t followed. Therefore, it’s important that adults and children alike know about lawn mower safety precautions.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, more than 10,500 children younger than 18 were treated for lawn mower injuries. Most injuries occurred when a child:

  • Was cut by the mower blades when the mower was steered in reverse.
  • Slipped under the mower while riding as a passenger.
  • Was struck by a mower that rolled over due to an uneven and/or wet surface.

Most injuries occur to the lower extremities – legs and feet. But what’s surprising is that 53% of lawn mower injuries in children resulted in amputation, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In many of these cases, parents and children were unaware of, or not following, common lawn mower safety tips.

These injuries can be devastating to kids and their families. Therefore, you and your children need to be aware of proper lawn mower safety and take precautions when mowing the yard. Here are some simple safety guidelines to follow:

  • Children should be at least 12 years old before they can operate a push mower.

    lawn mower safety

    Photo credit: 123RF / Sakonboon Sansri

  • Youth should be at least 16 years old to operate a riding lawn mower.
  • Youth should have good judgment, strength and coordination to operate a lawn mower.
  • Show your child how to mow the lawn safety. Supervise your child until you’re sure he or she can do the job properly alone.
  • Always use a mower with a control that stops the blades if the handle is released.
  • Make sure children are indoors or a safe distance away from the lawn mower when operating it. Always be aware of where children are while running the mower.
  • Don’t mow the grass when it’s wet, during a thunderstorm or without enough daylight.
  • Pick up any objects such as twigs, stones and toys in the mowing area before you mow.
  • Make sure that all protective guards, shields and other safety equipment on the lawn mower are working properly and that your mower is in good condition.
  • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electric shock if you’re using an electric mower.
  • Never allow children to ride as passengers on riding lawn mowers.
  • Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles (not sandals or tennis shoes), close-fitting clothes, safety goggles and hearing protection when operating the mower.
  • Don’t pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless it’s absolutely necessary. Always look behind you for children before you mow in reverse.
  • Stop and turn off the mower if you hit an object. Then inspect the mower. Don’t use the mower if it’s damaged.
  • Mow up and down slopes – not across – when on a riding mower to avoid tipping over.
  • Mow across the face of slopes – not up and down – when using a walk-behind mower to keep from slipping under the mower and blades.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher; unclogging the discharge chute; crossing gravel paths, sidewalks or roads; or inspecting or repairing the lawn mower.
  • Use a stick or broom handle to remove debris in lawn mowers. Don’t use your hands or feet.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you or a child experience a serious injury while mowing the lawn.

Remember, protect yourself and your kids by following these lawn mower safety tips.

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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.