Riding mowers cause most of the lawn mower-related injuries in children and most of them are injured in their own yard. Common injuries include amputations, fractures, cuts, infection and skin damage.
"One important statistic to remember is that a significant number of these accidents occur among family members," Dr. Junichi Tamai, at the division of pediatric orthopedic surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a hospital news release. "Most families think that if the child stays with a family member, everything will be okay, but that is not always the case."
Tamai and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer the following tips for keeping safe around lawn mowers:
- Children younger than 15 should not be in the yard when someone else is mowing. Kids younger than 12 should not use walk-behind mowers. Those younger than 16 should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children or adults should never be allowed as passengers on ride-on mowers.
- Use a lawn mower with safety features such as automatic blade disengagement when the mower is placed in reverse; a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is released; and a blade safety device for ride-on mowers that disconnects the blade from the power source when the operator leaves the operating position.
- When operating a lawn mower don't pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you as you mow in reverse.
- Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing areas like gravel paths or roads.
- When mowing, wear safety gear such as hard-soled, sturdy shoes -- no sandals or sneakers -- and hearing and eye protection.
- Prevent injuries from flying objects by picking up items such as rocks and toys from the lawn before starting to mow.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about lawn mower injuries in children.