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5/3/19blog post

3 things you can't miss before mowing the lawn

mower injuries can cause devastating injuries

Spring is in the air and your backyard may be looking like a jungle these days. Before you haul out the lawnmower to tame that beast, take 20 minutes to focus on safety.

“In the past week, two children came to Dayton Children’s with devastating injuries from lawn mowers. It’s a situation that no parent wants,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager for Dayton Children’s Hospital. “While we don’t treat large numbers of children for lawnmower injuries, those we do see often suffer serious disfiguring and life-altering injuries.”

Those injuries can include burns from touching the hot metal, injuries from flying rocks or debris, and mangled fingers, toes, legs or arms from coming into contact with the blades. A study in 2016 found that 53 percent of lawnmower injuries required an amputation. Three steps can help keep your children safe.

step one
Keep kids younger than 6 years old inside while you cut the grass. They may promise to stay away, but let’s face it, a child’s attention span can’t keep that bargain.  Never let them ride on a riding mower.

step two
Clear the yard of as many rocks, branches, toys and any other items that you can find. These items become projectiles when caught and thrown by a spinning blade.

step three
Always mow forward. It may be tempting to put it in reverse when you’re in a tight spot, but too many children have been backed over this way.

Mowing the yard is often one of the first responsibilities parents delegate to their teenagers. Before assigning this task to your child consider his or her physical and mental abilities to operate the mower safely. 

“Remember that teens are still developing some of their coordination skills,” says Schwing. “Take the time to teach your child the proper way to mow and specific safety precautions.”
A few more tips from Dayton Children’s and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

1.    Children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a ride-on mower. 
2.    Always wear sturdy shoes while mowing – not sandals. 
3.    Always wear eye and hearing protection. 
4.    Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. 
5.    Start and refuel mowers outdoors – not in a garage.  Refuel with the motor turned off and cool. 
6.    Wait for blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel roads. 

By serving as a role model to children, parents can teach proper lawn mower operation and handling skills, while ensuring a safe summer for the family. 

Lisa Schwing

trauma program manager
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