Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lawn Mowers and Children: A Deadly Mix

I read a heartbreaking story in my local newspaper today. A five-year-old boy ran in front of his grandfather’s riding lawn mower and slipped. The mower severed the boy’s foot a few inches above the ankle. Unfortunately, the damage was so extensive that the foot was unable to be reattached. Imagine the tremendous guilt that poor grandfather must feel, as well as the hardships ahead for that little boy. Unfortunately, this little boy’s tale is not unique. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 9,000 children are injured by lawn mowers each year, with more than 600 of them resulting in amputation.

To prevent injury to your children from a lawn mower, follow these guidelines:

NEVER allow children to ride with you on a riding mower. And don’t let children under age 16 drive a riding mower.

Children under age 12 should never use a walk-behind mower. And children over 12 should be thoroughly educated on the dangers and risks of a lawn mower and its proper operation.

Purchase a mower that will stop operating if you let go of the handle.

Never operate a mower in bare feet or sandals. Wear closed-toe shoes.

Scan the lawn for objects before mowing to help prevent them from being thrown by the mower.

Keep children indoors or far away from the area in which you are mowing.

These and other tips for safely operating a lawn mower are available from the American Academy of Pediatrics at It only takes a split second for a child (or adult, for that matter) to be seriously injured by a lawn mower, as the poor family in my newspaper found out. Be sure to implement these lawn mower safety tips this summer.

P.S. A friend of mine says her surgeon husband sees a heart-breaking number of lawn mower injuries to adults, too. So, be sure to follow safety rules not only to protect your children from harm, but also yourself.

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