Mowing lawns is a popular summer job for teens everywhere. But before your child starts using your lawn mower, it’s important to know just how powerful it is, and to be aware of lawn mower safety rules.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more than 9,000 children a year are treated in emergency rooms for lawn mower injuries. Most of these injuries occur in their own backyards. Consider these facts:
- The majority of children treated for lawnmower-related injuries are very young, between the ages of just 3-5.
- Injuries range from burns after touching hot engines and puncture wounds from flying debris to limbs severed by blades that spin at 3,000 rpm.
- Many of these injuries result in some degree of amputation.
YOUNG CHILDREN IN PARTICULAR ARE AT RISK
As an orthopaedic surgeon, I know firsthand how bad these injuries can be. Many times the stories are similar: A child was riding with a relative on a riding lawn mower and fell off. Or a child was walking or running behind someone on a riding mower, the relative backed up without seeing the child and ran over the child’s feet.
While the number of lawn mower accidents that happen is relatively small compared to other types of injuries, the severity of the injuries is often catastrophic. The good news is that most of these injuries can be prevented with a few safety measures.
Here are some tips to help keep your children and grandchildren safe while mowing the lawn, and to teach your child when it’s their turn to start mowing.
WHEN IS MY CHILD OLD ENOUGH TO MOW THE LAWN?
- Push Mower: Age 12 or older
- Riding Mower: Age 16 or older
LAWN MOWER SAFETY TIPS
- Pick up objects from lawn, such as stones and toys, to prevent injuries from flying objects.
- Make sure all kids under the age of 15 are indoors when someone else is mowing.
- Do not allow children or adults to ride as a passenger on a riding mower.
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and look behind you when you do.
- Turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths.
- Wear hard-soled shoes (no sandals or sneakers), hearing and eye protection.
LAWN MOWER SAFETY FEATURES
The safest lawn mower has the following features:
- When placed in reverse, the blade disengages.
- When handle is released, the mower stops.
- When driver leaves operating position, a ride-on mower disconnects the blade from the power source.
Even though a lot of lawn mowers come with safety features, improper use can result in injuries. Be sure to read the safety procedures in your operator’s manual.
PARENTS: ENFORCE RULES
Because lawn mowers can be so dangerous, parents need to make sure the tips above are followed every time the lawn is mowed. The horrible lawn mower accidents I’ve seen in kids are preventable. I caution all parents to be aware that a lawn mower must be treated with extreme caution and handled responsibly. When done correctly and safely, mowing lawns can be a great summer job for teenagers.
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