As you begin assigning chores to your children this summer, there are few things to consider about yard work and lawn mower safety.
“We see quite a few patients in our emergency room during the summer because of lawn mower injuries,” said Dr. Terri Coco, pediatric emergency medicine. “Most typical are skin lacerations and injuries to extremities, such as their hands and feet. We also see some eye injuries when items like rocks or sticks are picked up and thrown by a lawn mower.”
In general, children should be at least:
- 12 years old to safely operate a walk-behind power or hand lawn mower
- 16 years old to safely operate a riding lawn mower
When you decide your child is ready to use a lawn mower, spend some time with them reviewing the equipment’s owner manual in advance and talking about how to do the job safely. The most important thing, said Dr. Coco, is parental supervision.
“Lawn mower injuries can be severe. These types of injuries require many surgeries involving many specialists, especially when the goal involves saving a limb,” Dr. Coco said.
- Inspect the area to be cut, and remove any items that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower.
- Ensure your lawn equipment is in good working condition.
- Use sunscreen, safety glasses or goggles, closed-toe shoes and hearing protection.
- Small children should be a safe distance away while the lawn mower is in use.
- Never allow children to ride as passengers on a riding lawn mower.
- Avoid mowing in reverse.
- Push or drive your mower up and down slopes, not across, to prevent mower rollover.
- When you turn your mower off, make sure the blades are completely stopped.
- Only refuel the mower once the engine has cooled.
A lawn mower is a very powerful tool. It can cause serious injuries, but many of these injuries are preventable. Keep your children safe around lawn mowers this summer. Following these guidelines can help prevent lawn mower injuries.