The lawn mower seems like a wholesome machine. Not necessarily.
In 2010 alone, 253,000 people - including nearly 17,000 children under 19 — received treatment for injuries related to a mower, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Recently a dad cut off his 5-year-old daughter's feet when he accidentally backed over her in a riding mower.
Follow safety rules to protect your teens and young grandchildren from life-changing injuries and even death.
Keep kids under 6 inside the house while mowing. Understandably, they're tempted to get close to the action. Young kids want to be part of the action while their parents or grandparents are mowing, says Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. "They go running outside. Because the lawn mower is so loud, the operator doesn't hear the child approaching."
Pay attention. Adults often "kind of get into a trance" when they mow, says Smith. "The children come out behind the lawn mower. Without thinking, [the driver] puts it in reverse and mows right over the child."
Don't take kids for a ride in the mower. Sometimes parents or grandparents put little ones in their laps. Wrong move. They can wind up falling intot he path of the heavy machine. "You crush bone and just shred flesh," says Smith. "These are devasting, just gruesome, life-threatening and life-changing injuries."
Don't let kids under 16 ride on mowers. It's tricky to navigate uneven terrain and hills before learning to drive. (To prevent mowers from rolling over, drive up and down slopes instead of across them.) And don't let children operate push-from-behind mowers until they're at least 12.
Teach kids that engines get hot. Curious young children may touch the mower. The result: burns.
Require kids (and adults!) to wear sturdy shoes. To reduce the risk of losing fingers and toes, never allow anyone in your family to wear flip-flops or open-toed styles while mowing. Save the cute sandals for "apres-mow" times.
Wear protective eyewear. Polycarbonate goggles may sound like overkill. They're not. Blades can pick up nails or pieces of gravel and hurdle them "at velocities that are near what you'd have coming out of a 22-gauge rifle," says Smith. "I know of at least one fatality of a kid who got hit by a nail. He was just right in the path."
Buy a safer mower. Get one that automatically disengages the blades when you go into reverse. And then don't override the feature.
The bottom line: Carefully follow the safety rules — or hire a professional.
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