Summer mowing season has hit full stride.
Injuries from lawnmowers are among the most traumatic seen at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. They are devastating to patients and their families. Doctors say each year several children in Middle Tennessee are severely injured in mowing accidents.
“Lawnmower injuries are easily preventable. Parents and caregivers should use caution and be aware of where their children are at all times while a lawnmower is in use. Children should remain inside the house or under the direct supervision of another adult,” said Steven Lovejoy, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation.
Lovejoy said there are several common types of lawnmower injuries: bystanders who fall, slide or trip into the path of a mower; older children who are operating the lawnmower and get their fingers or toes cut off by the blades; those who have roll-over injuries; and passengers of any age who slip or fall from a riding mower into the path of the blades.
“Many people do not realize a mower can throw an object up to 2,100 feet at 200 mph into a child who is playing in the yard and cause severe injuries or death,” Lovejoy said. “These are powerful vehicles that are dangerous to children and can cause devastating injuries.”
Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt offers the following tips to help reduce the risk of a lawn mower injury:
Children should not ride on lawn mowers as passengers. They can fall and be caught under the mower.
Clear the mowing area of objects including twigs, stones and toys that can be picked up and thrown by the lawnmower blades.
Wear close-toed shoes with slip-proof soles while mowing.
Consider hearing protection for louder mowers.
Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is let go.
Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you do.
Make sure all children are indoors or at a safe distance away from the area you are mowing before you turn on the mower.
If your child is going to operate the lawn mower, make sure he or she is old enough to handle the responsibilities that are associated with using one. Children younger than 16 should not be allowed to operate riding mowers and those younger than 12 should not be allowed to use push mowers.
Before you allow your child to mow the lawn alone, spend time showing him or her how to do the job safely. Supervise your child’s work until you are sure he or she can manage the task alone.
Store the fuel for the mower out of reach of children. Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or a shed. Mowers should be refueled with the motor turned off and cool. Never let children refuel the engine.