Physicians nationwide are warning parents that mowing the lawn can be a dangerous chore for children. More than 250,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those, 17,000 were children and teenagers.
“Lawn mowers are not meant to be toys and are certainly not to be used for joy rides,” said Dr. Michael Neumeister, president of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery. “Most lawn mower injuries occur when the operator is distracted momentarily and injuries can range from fingertips to entire hands and feet.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following safety tips for mowing the lawn:
- Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
- Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a driving lawn mower.
- Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
- Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower or is in the vicinity wear polycarbonate protective eyewear at all times.
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
- Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
- Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawn mowers.
- Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.
- Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.
- Keep lawn mowers in good working order. When using a lawn mower for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
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