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Category: Safety Information

Mower Safety 101: Avoiding Traumatic Injury

Mowing your lawn may seem like a routine chore, but it can pose serious risks if proper safety precautions are not followed. Thousands of individuals suffer traumatic injuries related to lawn mower accidents every year. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 80,000 people are treated in emergency rooms annually for lawn mower-related injuries. Unfortunately, over 9,000 of those accidents involve serious injury to children. 

The Importance of Mower Safety 

Before operating any lawn mower, it is crucial to thoroughly read the manufacturer's manual. The manual provides essential instructions on operating procedures, safety precautions, and maintenance guidelines. Familiarize yourself with the mower's controls, safety features, and any specific recommendations to ensure safe operation. 

In addition to safe operation, the top five most common causes of mower related injuries are as follows: 

Blade Contact
The blades of a lawn mower are sharp and powerful, capable of causing severe cuts, lacerations, and even amputations if they come into contact with body parts or objects. The primary hazard is getting too close to the blades while they are rotating or attempting to clear debris without properly shutting off the mower. 

Projectile Hazards
Lawn mowers can propel objects at high speeds, turning them into dangerous projectiles. Rocks, sticks, toys, or other debris on the lawn can be picked up and thrown by the mower blades, posing a risk to the operator or anyone nearby. These projectiles can cause serious injuries, including eye injuries. 

Tip-over Accidents
Riding lawn mowers have a higher risk of tipping over, especially on slopes, uneven terrain, or when making sharp turns. Tip-over accidents can result in the operator being pinned underneath the mower, leading to crush injuries or even fatalities. It is important to follow manufacturer guidelines, operate on level ground, and be cautious on slopes to prevent tip-over accidents. 

Burns and Fires
Lawn mowers can become hot during operation, and fuel systems can pose fire hazards. Fuel leaks, improper refueling practices, or coming into contact with hot engine parts can result in burns or fires. It is crucial to follow proper refueling procedures, avoid smoking or open flames near the mower, and be cautious around hot components. 

Slips, Trips, and Falls
Operating a lawn mower requires stability and balance. Slipping or tripping while walking or running behind a push mower or losing control of a riding mower can lead to falls. Falls can result in injuries such as fractures, sprains, or head injuries. It is important to wear appropriate footwear, mow at a safe and comfortable pace, and be mindful of uneven or slippery surfaces. 

Children and Mower Safety 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until children are at least 12 years old before allowing them to operate a push mower and 16 years old for a riding mower. This is only after they have received proper training on mower safety and always operate the machinery under adult supervision. Know the risks of putting your children behind a mower. Some of the most common concerns to consider are: 

Lack of Physical Strength and Control
Push mowers, in particular, require a certain level of strength and coordination to maneuver and control effectively. Insufficient control can lead to accidents, such as losing control of the mower or unintentionally running over obstacles. Ensure your child is strong enough to appropriately maneuver the mower. 

Inadequate Judgment and Decision-making
Children may not possess the same level of judgment and decision-making skills as adults. This is one reason why the AAPT recommends that only children older than 12 years of age operate push mowers and 16 or older for riding mowers. It is up to parents to ensure any child is mature enough to assess potential hazards accurately or make quick decisions in response to changing situations. This can lead to risky behaviors or improper handling of the mower, increasing the risk of accidents. 

Heightened Risk of Distractions
Children may be more prone to distractions while operating a lawn mower. Their attention span may be shorter, and they may be easily distracted by their surroundings or other activities. Distractions can lead to a loss of focus and increase the likelihood of accidents, such as veering off course or colliding with objects. 

Prevention is the best way to avoid traumatic injuries while operating lawn mowers. By implementing common sense safety measures, such as reading the manual, wearing appropriate attire, clearing the mowing area, and maintaining vigilance, the risk of harm can be significantly reduced. Additionally, following fueling precautions, being cautious on slopes, and prioritizing regular maintenance further contribute to safe mowing practices. 

In the event of a traumatic injury, it is vital to have access to a reliable medical facility. CaroMont Health, with its Level III Trauma Center in Gastonia and free-standing emergency department in Mount Holly, understands the importance of having nearby medical resources that specialize in handling such emergencies. Each location is committed to providing advanced care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.