June 5 , 2007
Joanmarie Pellegrini, MD
Lawnmower injuries are far more common than most of us would guess. Each year over 70 thousand people are injured across the nation and almost 10 thousand are children. The vast majority of these injuries are preventable. This is such a problem that both the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued a combined position statement. Below is a summary of their recommendations:
Most lawnmower injuries are preventable if you concentrate on your task and use common sense. Some basic tips:
Read the instruction manual before using a lawnmower.
Be sober (i.e., don't drink).
Do not remove safety devices, shields or guards on switches, and keep hands and feet away from moving parts.
Stay away from the engine cowling, as it can become very hot and burn unprotected flesh.
Add fuel before starting the engine, not when it is running or hot.
Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawnmowers. You should consider removing the spark plug before doing this to ensure there is no chance of the motor engaging.
Never let children operate lawnmowers. Keep kids 15 years of age and younger away when lawnmowers are in use. It is best to have smaller children inside while you are mowing.
Do not leave a lawnmower unattended when it is running. If you must walk away from the machine, shut off the engine.
More lawnmower safety tips:
Keep lawnmowers in good working order with sharp blades.
Remove stones, toys and other objects from the lawn before you start mowing.
Wear protective gloves, goggles, boots and long pants when you use lawnmowers. Never mow barefoot or in sandals.
Never let passengers of any age join you on a riding mower.
Use caution when mowing hills and slopes. Mow across with a push mower; mow up and down with a riding mower. Do not cut wet grass.
Be sure the motor is off before inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment.