Tips for Mower Safety
Watch out, kids!
Each year many children are injured severely by lawn mowers. The American Academy of Pediatrics noted that there are over 17,000 lawn mower injuries in children each year that require medical attention. Power mowers can be especially dangerous.
Every time you start your mower, you are dealing with a dangerous and potentially deadly piece of equipment. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics are shocking: 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 involves a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.
Many people do not realize that a mower can throw an object up to 2,100 feet at 200 mph into a child who is playing in the yard and cause severe injuries or death.
However, most lawn mower-related injuries can be prevented by following these safety guidelines.
Beth Berg is Mercy Children’s Hospital and Clinics’ Injury Prevention Coordinator in the Trauma Services Department. She recommends following the tips from healthychildren.org.
“This is valuable information on when to let your tween or teen start mowing and how to keep them safe before, during and after. Also, one key tip is to ensure other children are accounted for and not anywhere near the lawn mower.”
When is my child old enough to mow the lawn?
Before learning how to mow the lawn, your child should show the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires. In general, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should be at least
- 12 years of age to operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower safely
- 16 years of age to operate a riding lawn mower safely
It is important to teach your child how to use a lawn mower. Before you allow your child to mow the lawn alone, spend time showing him or her how to do the job safely. Supervise your child’s work until you are sure that he or she can manage the task alone.
Before mowing the lawn:
- Make sure that children are indoors or at a safe distance well away from the area that you plan to mow.
- Read the lawn mower operator’s manual and the instructions on the mower.
- Check environmental conditions:
- Do not mow during bad weather, such as during a thunderstorm.
- Do not mow wet grass.
- Do not mow without enough daylight.
- Clear the mowing area of any objects such as twigs, stones, and toys that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades.
- Make sure that protective guards, shields, the grass catcher, and other types of safety equipment are placed properly on the lawn mower and that your mower is in good condition.
- Never allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on lawn mowers or garden tractors.
- Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety goggles, or glasses with side shields, and hearing protection.
- Watch for objects that could be picked up and thrown by the mower blades, as well as hidden dangers. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps. Use caution when approaching corners, trees or anything that might block your view.
- If the mower strikes an object, stop, turn the mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired.
- Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
- Use extra caution when mowing a slope.
- When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades.
- With a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over.
- Keep in mind that lawn trimmers also can throw objects at high speed.
- Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area where you are working. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use.
This information is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement Lawn Mower Injuries to Children, published in June 2001.
Sources: Lawn Mower Safety (Copyright © 2001 American Academy of Pediatrics), healthychildren.org, amputee-coalition.org, American Academy of Pediatrics