June 22, 2013

Mowing-safety tips offered

With summer in full swing, children are out playing and adults are mowing lawns — often at the same time. Children and lawn mowers are never a good combination, so this week, I’ll take a cut at the dangers of lawnmowers.

Each year, nearly 16,000 children get injured from a lawn mower. Half of those injuries are due to problems with children on riding mowers or playing with power mowers. Almost 10 percent of these children need to be hospitalized, which is twice the rate of other consumer-product injuries. Lawn-mower injuries to children include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, eye damage and more.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently made the following recommendations for preventing lawn-mower injuries in children:

1. Children should be at least 16 years old to operate ride-on mowers and 12 years of age to use push mowers. It’s not just the age requirement that allows them to operate these machines: They need to demonstrate appropriate levels of judgment, strength, coordination and maturity. Children should receive a period of operational training, safety instruction and supervision by an adult before they mow the lawn on their own.

2. Before mowing, make sure your teen clears the area of twigs, stones and toys that can be picked up and thrown by the mower blades. Make sure the mower is in good condition and that protective guards, shields, the grass catcher and other safety equipment are in working order.

3. Teens should wear sturdy shoes and not sandals and wear protective clothing and eyewear to protect against flying debris. Ear plugs can also be useful to prevent hearing damage.

4. Teens should never pull the mower backward or mow in reverse.

5. When a teen has finished mowing, they should turn off a power mower and wait for the blades to stop before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute or crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas with the mower.

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