Has that time of year arrived already? Could it really be time to start cutting and trimming the lawn again? With that in mind, it’s also time to consider some safety tips for lawn care.
Lawnmowers are very powerful and needless to say an almost indispensable tool. They not only gobble up the lawn, but often the people operating them. More than 100,000 people a year are injured mowing the lawn. It is usually an adult, but children become victims as well. Most of these injuries are preventable with a small amount of effort and common sense precautions.
The power and danger of a lawnmower can’t be taken for granted. A mower is able to spit out a rock, piece of wood or metal at a speed of 100 miles per hour. The force of a small object striking a person after ejection from a mower is comparable to being shot with a handgun.
The mower blade is able to mangle part of an extremity in literally the blink of an eye. Power or push, ride or walk, they all contribute to an enormous number of serious injuries. Lawnmower injuries most often involve the hand, fingers, wrist, foot, ankle, or toes and account for the large percentage of partial or complete amputations.
A number of simple precautions will go a long way in preventing injury to yourself or your family. Only adults should operate mowers and supervise young people about the dangers and proper use.
In order to maintain adequate control of a mower, no one younger than age 12 should operate a walk-behind mower because a certain amount of growth, strength and coordination is necessary.
A riding mower should not be operated by anyone younger than 14. Again, maturity, exercising good judgment and instruction on how to operate safely is important. Proper footwear and eye protection for the operator is always a must. Since flying objects are a big potential problem, others should be kept away from the area being mowed.
A bag that catches the clippings or a flap plate that covers the opening where the grass is ejected should be in place and in good working order. Mower adjustments and refueling should be done by an adult when the mower is off, cool, and with the ignition off.
Regular maintenance and simple inspection before or between regular use will be a great aid in preventing dangerous malfunctions. Many safety features are built in to mowers, but are overlooked and neglected. They can’t help unless the mower is in proper working order. Working on a hot mower or inadvertent charge from a spark plug that is not disconnected can lead to burns or accidental ignition.
A few simple steps can prevent a life-changing injury. Please treat these tools with the respect and care they deserve.
By Dr. Bruce Kaler