Keeping Kids Safe While Mowing The Lawn

When I was a child, I always thought mowing the lawn looked cool. When I was old enough to help at home, my father would let me use the push mower to help mow our back yard but I don’t think I ever really understood the dangers of those mowers and just how sharp those blades were until years later when I was a pediatric resident working in the ER with grass in full bloom. I saw fingers and legs sliced in ways unimaginable, some from foreign bodies kicked up from the mower. But, the worst lawn mower accident by far was a cute little boy who had fallen off a riding mower. Despite his father’s quick reaction at hitting the power kill switch, the child’s leg was horribly damaged by the blade. He’s very, very lucky he didn’t end up losing it.

According to recent statistics, 75,000 people are injured each year from lawn mower accidents with 10,000 of those being kids. These injuries can be very, very serious but are also avoidable by following some simple safety measures. Here are some simple tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help you keep your family safe while keeping your lawn healthy this summer:

  • “Try to use a mower with a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is let go.
  • Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
  • Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
  • Always 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, roads, or other areas.
  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.”

By the way, the best way to keep small kids safe while a a grown up is mowing the lawn is to have the kids indoors or on a deck supervised. Rocks, sticks and all sorts of things can get tossed out from under a mower and also cause damages, as the University of Michigan Health Minute reminds us.

Given how many pictures I found online of kids pushing grownup mowers with their dads and grandpas, this is an important issue to talk about. Plus, I still can’t shake the image of that cute boy I saw all those years ago in the ER. Let’s all do what we can to make sure those type of images become history.

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