Keep kids off your lap if you’re mowing!

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As many as 7,000 children younger than 16 are injured in lawn mower accidents in the United States every year.

According to Dr. William Hennrikus of Penn State Hershey Bone and Joint Institute, many injuries are not to mower operators, but to children who run out into the yard as an adult is cutting the grass or who are passengers on ride-on mowers.

Children are typically hurt when their feet and legs are caught by the blades after falling near or from the mowers. Hennrikus said the most common injury is a severe laceration or partial amputation of the lower body.

Hennrikus, a former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Orthopedic Society, suggests several safe lawn mowing habits.

Start at age 12.

According to the AAP, children allowed to mow the lawn should be at least 12 if operating a push mower or at least 16 if using a ride-on mower.

These ages are general guidelines for parents. Additionally, the child’s abilities and maturity level along with their size should be considered.

“Some children are smaller in size and they should probably wait until they’re older to consider being in the backyard cutting the lawn with a push mower,” Hennrikus said.

Keep them in house.

Children should never sit as passengers on ride-on mowers and, in general, children should not be in the yard when an adult is cutting the lawn.

“If a child runs out into the area where you’re cutting the lawn, turn off the lawn mower and clear the area before turning it on again,” he said.

Some additional tips:

• Before cutting the grass, clear the lawn of toys, rocks and other debris that can turn into projectiles if run over by the mower. Walk through the grassy area to clear it first.

• Don’t compromise feet by wearing flimsy flip-flops. Wear only sturdy shoes that cover the feet.

• Review the owner’s manual before use or when teaching a teen to use a mower, regardless of the style of mower.

• Most manufacturers recommend to not go in reverse and to not cut wet grass or use a mower in the rain.

• If cutting grass on a slope or hill with a push mower, go side to side; if using a ride-on, go up and down and be cautious of turns since these models can flip.

• Use goggles or other safety glasses to protect the eyes when using any kind of lawn care or landscaping equipment.

Hennrikus advises caution when using noise canceling headphones or other means of hearing protection since a child may not be heard if they run out into the yard while the lawn mower is on.

3 Comments

  1. Ryan says:

    This is shocking to realize that so many children are injured during lawn mowing services. Thanks for this writeup, as I think it’s important for everybody, children and adults alike, to be extremely careful when operating lawn mowers.

  2. Seasoned_Citizen says:

    There is a culture prevalent today, mostly in cities and suburbs, that doing yard work, landscaping or using machinery as being “below” their station in life. I was informed by my neighbor who told me: “I didn’t go to Harvard to cut lawns.” These people don’t have a clue as to the dangers of lawn machinery.

    On the other hand, the local “weekend warriors” sitting on the cheapest riding mower they can buy do fashion themselves as “Masters of the Land.” All they know is how to turn the key on and start the machines. I had to counsel one of these “Einsteins” that the reason his new riding mower would not start was two-fold: one, he filled the engine’s crankcase with gasoline and the gas tank with 30w oil, and second, that he was “S-T-U-P-I-D.” Needless to say, we have never spoken since. I never met a neighbor that I didn’t like.

    This second group are the ones I see with babies in their laps on their riding mowers as they speed across their 1/8th acre lots in their ticky-tacky cookie-cutter houses. I have actually stopped my truck not a few times and warned these parents what they are doing is dangerous. Each one has told me: “Mind you own business old man–they aren’t YOUR KIDS!”

    ? So I guess common sense and safety for these types hinges on who “owns” these vulnerable kids. I think not. It’s dumb and ignorant parents. Pure and simple.

    More parents and kids ought to be raised on farms and ranches where the respect for machinery is paramount. When I was a little tyke, Pa was out mowing with a belly-mower on the farm tractor. He stopped it, asked me to watch something. Pa started the tractor and belly mower back up, then with the blades still spinning underneath, he got down off the tractor and rammed a broomstick handle into the whirring blades.

    “WHACK–GRRRR–WHACK” was the tremendous noise and there were splinters of the wooden broomstick handle everywhere.

    “THAT, boy,” he said. ” could just as well have been your arm, leg, or the dog. RESPECT MACHINERY SON.”

    Sixty five years later, I still follow his advice; Happy to say Pa’s advice was well-taken. I still have all digits and phalanges the Good Lord added on to my chassis so long ago!

    P.S.
    Common-sense and stupidity? Check this out: 66% of 17-24 year olds today in America are too lazy, stupid, or fat that even the US Army won’t take them in. see: http://online.wsj.com/articles/recruits-ineligibility-tests-the-military-1403909945

  3. Ralph Wycoff says:

    thanks for your post about this incident. i think that i should take care of my kids carefully when gardening.

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