Spring, summer and fall are the times of year when you are most likely to hear the monotonous hum of mower blades echoing throughout neighborhoods.
It’s often the first job a young boy or girl acquires to earn a little extra money, but lawn mowing can come with high risk of injuries when kids and parents don’t follow some simple guidelines.
Despite recommendations presented by AAP, the incidence of lawn mower-related injuries in children has remained unchanged over the last two to three decades.
From 2004-’13, an average of 9,351 youths ages 20 years and younger suffered lawn mower-related injuries each year, according to a review of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
About one-third of the wounds occurred in children younger than 12. Two age groups sustained the most injuries, 3 years old and 16 years old and predominately male.
Areas of the body most commonly injured involved hand/fingers ((30%), lower extremity (17%) and face/eye (14%). Amputations and fractures combined accounted for 12.5% of injuries and were more likely to require hospitalization.
Although the incidence of injuries caused by ride-on mowers was 2.5 times higher than those caused by walk-behind mowers, the type of mower was not specified in over 70% of cases, making a true determination of relative risk nearly impossible.
While fractures and amputations are the most dramatic injuries, they certainly are not the only ones reported. An analysis of NEISS data from 1990-2004 showed the majority of lawn mower injuries were cuts, other soft-tissue injuries and burns.
Also reported in the study were foreign body injuries. It’s hard to imagine, but the rotation of the blades on a typical 26-inch riding lawn mower is similar to the energy required to fire a bullet through the engine block of an automobile, according to the authors. The force certainly is enough to impale objects into a child’s body, even from a good distance away.
The AAP warns that kids and parents should be aware of the precautions one should take before and during mowing to keep everyone safer.
Here are some mower-safety tips from the AAP:
• Before learning how to mow the lawn, your child should show the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires. Kids should be at least 12 years of age to operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower safely and 16 years of age to operate a riding lawn mower safely.
• Children should be supervised until you are sure he or she can handle the job alone.
• Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety goggles or glasses with side shields, and hearing protection.
• Watch for objects that could be picked up and thrown by the mower blades, as well as hidden dangers. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps. Use caution when approaching corners, trees or anything that might block your view.
• If the mower strikes an object, stop, turn the mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired.
• Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
• Use extra caution when mowing a slope.
• When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades.
• With a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over.
• Keep in mind that lawn trimmers also can throw objects at high speed.
• Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area where you are working. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use.
Stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling. Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before:
• Crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas
• Removing the grass catcher
• Unclogging the discharge chute
• Walking away from the mower
Some of the most heartbreaking accidents occur when small children – even infants- are allowed to “ride along” while their parents or grandparents are using a riding mower or small tractor. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics show that each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation; 75 people are killed, and 20,000 injured; one in five deaths involves a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers. Never allow a child on a lawn mower or small tractor while you’re using it.
Mowing can be fun, a good source of income for adolescents and a help to families; so make sure to give an ounce of prevention to avoid having to receive a pound of cure.
Story sources: http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/08/11/LawnMowers081116