As spring and summer bring warmer weather and the grass begins to grow more quickly, our neighborhoods are filled with the sounds of buzzing lawn mowers. Unfortunately, this common task of mowing the lawn can cause significant injury or death for tens of thousands of people across the nation. It’s especially important for parents to be aware of their child’s safety around lawn mowers.
Already this year, there have been several cases of children seriously injured in mowing accidents:
- A 2-year-old girl in Florida lost both her feet when her father backed over her with a riding mower.
- A 4-year-old boy in Tennessee had severe cuts on his arms and legs after a lawn mower ran over him.
- A 2-year-old Maryland boy was in critical condition after a lawn mower he was riding with his grandfather overturned into a creek.
- An 18-month-old boy in Washington lost a leg when his grandfather backed over him with a riding mower.
In 2011, 3,780 kids ages 14 or under were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for lawn mower injuries, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. When visits to doctors’ offices and clinics are included, more than 17,000 children and teens are treated for lawn mower injuries each year.
Most children injured by lawnmowers are age 6 or younger. Forty percent of all lawn mower injuries involving children are caused by falling or jumping from a mower. Another 40 percent are caused by sliding under or being backed over a mower. Almost all accidents occur while a parent or relative is riding the lawnmower.
These injuries can be life-changing for children, but in most cases, they are totally preventable.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips to protect children from lawn mower injuries:
- Don’t allow children under 12 to operate a push mower, or those under 16 to drive a riding mower
- Do not let children ride as passengers on mowers
- Keep children off the lawn while you are mowing
- Pick up debris in the yard before mowing. Flying sticks, stones or toys can cause injury
- Do not pull or ride a mower backward unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to mow backwards, carefully look for children behind you
A lawn mower is a valuable tool for any homeowner, but can also be a dangerous weapon. Always be aware of your surroundings when you are mowing and be especially aware of children.