Summer is here, which means that most homeowners in Pennsylvania are tasked with the chore of mowing their lawns. But as a recent article from the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out, mowing can be more than an annoyance, it can be downright dangerous.
According to the article, 253,000 individuals were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010, some for catastrophic injuries requiring amputation. Of all the lawn-mower related accidents, about 17,000 involved people under the age of 19 and 80 percent were male.
Pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons and reconstructive surgeons say that the problem is quite simple: Sharp blades spinning at high-speeds combined with inexperienced or distracted operators is a recipe for disaster. Lawn mowers can also cause burn injuries and blunt force trauma resulting from projectiles being shot from the mower.
Finally, experts warn that riding lawn mowers are more likely to cause injury than push mowers, due to the tendency of people getting run over or backed up on. The most common injuries caused by all types of lawn mowers include cuts and broken bones, but more serious injuries can also occur.
Because most accidents involving lawn mowers are preventable, yet they appear to be on the rise, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery teamed up with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons to help raise awareness. Here are some tips from the organizations on lawn mower safety:
- Only use a mower that has protection over hot and sharp parts.
- Only use a mower that has the reverse switch behind the driver, forcing him or her to look behind when placing the machine in reverse.
- Only use a push mower that has a control that stops forward motion when the handle is released.
- Children should not be in the yard when the grass is being cut. If they must, then they should be kept at least 20 feet away from the running lawnmower at all times.
- Children should be at least age 12 years old before operating a push mower, and 16 to operate a riding lawn mower.
- Children should never be passengers on riding mowers.
- Always wear sturdy shoes while mowing, not sandals.
- Remove all debris from the grass before mowing to prevent injuries from flying objects.
- Always wear eye and hearing protection.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Lawn mowers: A medical menace?” Michael Yudell, June 19, 2012