Warm weather beckons many people outdoors. Perhaps no group of people like being out in the warm sun more than children.
Children should be encouraged to spend time outdoors when the weather allows, as physical activity is one of the hallmarks of a healthy lifestyle. But parents must exercise caution when kids are playing in the yard, especially when the grass is being mowed.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 9,000 children in the United States go to the emergency room for lawn mower-related injuries every year. Of the 800 children who are run over by mowers each year, 600 ultimately require amputations.
Many mower-related injuries occur when children who are too young and/or too weak to operate a mower are asked to do so. The AAP recommends that only children age 12 and older operate push mowers, while riding mowers should only be used by kids 16 and older. No child should use a mower without first being taught how to operate it, and kids should always wear eye protection and close-toed shoes when mowing. In addition, parents should never allow children to ride as passengers while mowing the lawn.
Mower-related injuries are preventable if parents emphasize safety. The following are some tips, courtesy of the AAP, that parents can follow to ensure their kids do not become one of the thousands of children who suffer mower-related injuries in a given year.
- Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
- Keep children out of the yard while mowing. Mower blades can shoot rocks, sticks or other common yard debris out in all directions, and these trajectories put kids at risk of injuries to their eyes and other parts of their bodies.
- Scour the yard for toys before mowing. Toys left in the yard can become trajectories if not removed prior to mowing, and chipped toys with sharp edges can pose a threat to kids even after the grass has been cut.
- Exercise caution if going in reverse. The AAP advises against pulling a mower backward or shifting into reverse unless absolutely necessary. If you must do so, look behind you to make sure no kids are trailing you or are nearby.
- Only mow when there is adequate daylight.
- Periodically inspect your mower. Periodic inspections of your mower can help you make sure guards, shields, switches, and other safety devices are in proper working order.
When mowing their lawns, parents must make safety their utmost priority to ensure kids do not suffer mower-related injuries.