Mowing the Lawn Can Be a Dangerous Chore

Tragic incidents such as the recent accident where a man ran over his 2-year-old daughter as he pulled a riding lawn mower into his garage in Palm Harbor remind us how dangerous lawn mowers can be.   The Tampa Bay Times reports the blades severed the little girl’s hand and both legs beneath the knees.   Authorities say the man was putting the lawn mower in the garage when he looked up and saw his wife motioning for him to stop. He backed up, unaware that his daughter had fallen behind him.  Firefighters say they treated both parents for hysteria. 
© kzenon More Coverage from this incident: ABC- Lawn Mower Accidents
Related: Common Lawn Mower Injuries
Each year, more than 74,000 small children, adolescents and adults are injured by rotary, hand and riding power mowers due to improper handling.  Sadly, 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010 — nearly 17,000 of them children under age 19, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. Lawn mower-related injuries are up 3 percent since 2009.
When doing something as routine as cutting your grass, it’s easy to forget how powerful and potentially dangerous a lawn mower can be, particularly heavy-duty driving mowers.  To keep your family safe, here are some guideline reminders  to keep in mind when mowing your grass.

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 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.
  • If your lawn mower is electric, use a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electric shock.
  • Never allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on lawn mowers or garden tractors.

While mowing: 

  • Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety googles 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. 

Stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling.

 Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before: 

  • Crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas
  • Removing the grass catcher
  • Unclogging the discharge chute
  • Walking away from the mower

 Lawnmowers are not toys and need to be used with extreme caution.  In an article for the American Acadamy of Pediatrics,  President Robert W. Block, MD, FAAP said: œEvery year at this time, in far too many neighborhoods, children are operating or playing around lawn mowers in unsafe ways. And every summer, thousands get hurt,” said . “We want parents and kids to be more aware of precautions to take so that injuries can be prevented.”

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