MARSHFIELD, Mo. — People fall victim to the revolving blades of powered lawn mowers each year, according to Bob Schultheis, a natural resource engineering specialist with the University of Missouri Extension.
“Objects can be thrown at more than 200 mph — about 300 feet per second — from a mower. The reaction time of most people is about two-thirds of a second, so there is no time to react to a spinning blade or to a thrown object,” said Schultheis.
As a special precaution, adults should make sure children are properly trained before entrusting mowing jobs to them.
If slopes are too steep for either riding or push mowers, Schultheis recommends doing the trimming by hand or planting to a low-maintenance ground cover.
With riding mowers, take extra care when turning, and look behind before backing up.
With push mowers, avoid pulling them backward and having your feet slip under the mower deck.
Whether power or push, be sure to shut the mower off before unclogging it or leaving it.
“People in tennis shoes, sandals, bare feet and shorts run the risk of serious injury if the mower throws a rock or stick, or if their feet slip on the grass and go under the mower deck,” said Schultheis.
Lawn mower safety tips
- Select the right mower for the job and make sure you have the size, strength and experience to run it.
- Know your equipment. Read the owner’s manual and follow all “safety decal” instructions.
- Prepare properly by picking up sticks, toys, rocks and trash in the area to be mowed.
- Wait until grass is dry before mowing to save wear and tear on equipment and to reduce grass diseases.
- Keep bystanders well away and never allow extra riders on riding mowers.
- Dress for safety means wearing deep-tread, hard-toe shoes and long pants for foot and leg protection.
- Use safety glasses for eye protection, expandable foam ear plugs or acoustic muffs for hearing protection, and a dust mask for those prone to respiratory allergies.
- Use proper fueling methods. Remove the ignition wire from the spark plug, and cool a hot mower 10 minutes or more before refueling.
- Refuel outdoors or in a well-vented area, and use the right fuel/oil mix with stabilizer for the type of engine.
- Electric mowers should be plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit to prevent possible shocks or electrocution.
- With push mowers, mow across the slope, never up and down. With riding mowers, mow up and down slopes; not across them.