Lawn Mower Safety

Frequent readers of our blog know we like to talk about safety. And this is going to be another one of those posts. It started because one of our orthopedic surgeons commented that in the last 6 days (days!) our Emergency Department has treated 2 children for lawn mowers injuries. As many of us have a summer season of lawn mowing ahead of us, it seemed like a good time to go over some tips to help keep everyone safe.

Know your machine

Read the owner’s manual, get to know your mower’s features and how to operate it safely. And make sure your machine has essential safety features – like a blade shutoff when you let go of the handle for push mowers. Newer riding lawnmowers have several safety features, including brake pedal locks, seat safety switches and a “No Mow in Reverse” safety switch, which should always be enabled. Individuals operating a riding lawn mower may not be aware of a child following close behind, which can have tragic consequences if they reverse the mower. Depending on the model, the reverse safety switch will disengage the mowing deck when the mower goes in reverse so the blades do not operate.

Get your gear on

Eye protection, ear protection and sturdy shoes. And don’t forget that sunscreen while you’re at it.

Pick up sticks

Take some time to pick up sticks, rocks and any other items in the yard. Rocks that get thrown by the mower blade can reach 200 mph and cause serious injury to you or anyone nearby.

Know who’s there

Little ones under the age of 6 should be in the house while you’re out mowing. With ear protection and the sound of the motor, you may not realize little ones are nearby. Or, they may get hit by any rocks or sticks the mower sends flying.

Never take passengers for a ride

Kids may enjoy riding with grandma or dad on the mower, but the consequences can be tragic. One Wisconsin family shared their story of what can go wrong.

Age matters

While 10 year olds may be eager to start a summer business, it shouldn’t be lawn mowing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until kids are 12 years old to use a push mower and 16 for a riding one. Younger kids can be easily distracted from their tasks and even a momentary lapse can have serious consequences. When they are ready, make sure they follow all safety rules, too.

Keep your hands to yourself

Always wait until the mower has come to a complete stop and is off before reaching anywhere near the blades or the muffler.

Every year in the U.S. nearly 10,000 children are injured by lawn mowers, most of them under the age of 6. This year we can expect 150 children in Wisconsin to be injured and at least 10 will lose a limb. In many cases, the child was injured while a parent or grandparent was operating a riding mower. Help ensure your summer stays fun for everyone by following safety guidelines when you mow. Recent literature states that 70 percent of these tragic injuries could be prevented if:

  • No child under 12 uses a push mower
  • No child under 16 uses a riding mower
  • All children under 6 remain in the house