TOPEKA – During the summertime, parents often look forward to sharing the burden of yard work with their children. However, lawn mowing can be extremely dangerous to children. Whether your child is operating the mower or playing nearby, it is important to take precautions to avoid serious injury.
“It’s common to see young children helping the family with mowing tasks, or mowing yards to earn money during the summer months,” says Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas. “But we also know that thousands of injuries associated with this piece of machinery are occurring every year. We want parents and children to be aware of the hazards lawn mowers pose, and how to prevent injuries.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the power lawn mower is one of the most dangerous tools around the home. Approximately 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010, nearly 17,000 of them children under age 19, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Older children and adolescents were most often hurt while cutting lawns as chores or as a way to earn money.
Lawn mower injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, and eye and other injuries. Some injuries are very serious. Both users of mowers and those who are nearby can be hurt.
To prevent lawn mower injuries to children, the AAP and Safe Kids Kansas recommend the following:
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. Use a collection bag for grass clippings or a plate that covers the opening where cut grass is released. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
Make sure that children are indoors or at a safe distance well away from the area that you plan to mow.
Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or shed. Mowers should be refueled with the motor turned off and cool.
Make sure that blade settings (to set the wheel height or dislodge debris) are done by an adult, with the mower off and the spark plug removed or disconnected.
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.
In addition, keep lawn chemicals out of reach of young children, remember to apply sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher to your child’s exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before going out and reapply frequently, and make sure your child drinks plenty of water. A child who seems tired or achy should rest in the shade or go inside for a while. Get immediate medical help any time a child’s skin is hot to the touch (with or without perspiration) or if a child has a seizure or becomes disoriented in hot weather.