Every spring and summer, whether you cut grass in Roswell, Georgia or mow lawns in Orlando, Florida, millions of lawns are mowed without a hitch. Perhaps it’s the commonality of the task that makes it seem safe. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), about 17,000 children require emergency care every year due to lawn mower related incidents. Lacerations, amputations, broken bones, burns, and even death can be a result of this seemingly mundane task when children are involved.
Depending on where a homeowner lives, the lawn may need to be mowed over 30 times per year. Every time the lawn mower is started, one is dealing with a potentially dangerous, powerful piece of equipment. The spinning sharp blades, the other moving parts that can crush body parts or pull loose clothing into the machine, and the weight of the machine that can potentially crush an operator are constant potential hazards for all users. Unfortunately, the incidents that cause the most harm are accidents involving children. Below are a few tips to ensure that children are in the safest situation possible when lawn care is being performed.
Keep younger kids inside the home—There is no need for a child under the age of 7 years old to be outside alone while any yard work is being performed. Children of that age that are left outside unsupervised are more susceptible to being hit by debris and accidentally run over. Most children that are run over by mowers were done so on accident when the driver was backing up and didn’t see the child. Keep children inside.
Pick up debris off lawn—Clearing debris is a must before mowing the lawn to ensure that anyone, especially children, are safe. The mower’s engine produces enough power to catapult objects at over 200 miles per hour out of the chute. This means that even a small stick or child’s toy can become a deadly projectile. Get the debris picked up to avoid this potential situation.
Store mower safely—After mowing, make sure the lawn mower is stored away from children. Not only is this piece of equipment deadly while engaged, but it has the potential to cause harm after it has been stored. The exhaust and engine on mowers can stay at 240 degrees for up to 10-15 minutes after being turned off. According to the Burn Foundation, any object with this temperature can cause 2nd or 3rd degree burns to the skin if contact is made. If possible, lock up the mower away from children each and every time the lawn has been mowed.
Do not let kids ride on the mower—Mowers do not have two seats and, therefore, are not designed for two people—so never let a child ride on a mower for any reason. Not only do children have a higher chance of being injured by the blades or by being run over, but the fall to the ground itself has the potential to cause irreversible brain damage. Allowing a child to ride a mower puts him/her at the most risk for injury, so this practice should never be allowed.
Avoid delegating chores too early—Never allow a child under the age of 12 years old to operate any type of mower. At this age, a child has not developed enough strength to operate this type of machinery safely. After the age of 12, children should only be operating a push mower under adult supervision. Not until the age of 16 should an adolescent ever be allowed to use a riding lawn mower. Do not allow these chores to start too early to avoid any potential accidents.
Mowing the lawn is a task that most people don’t mind performing. It helps one get a little exercise, be as one with nature, and make the property look more attractive. The simplicity of this task can cause major oversight to the potential risks caused by mowing, especially when children are nearby. However, children should not be brought into this chore or environment until they are old enough. Following these tips can ensure that one’s child and lawn grow up safely and out of lawn care harm’s way.