Lawn cutting season is just around the corner in Marietta, the Atlanta metro area, and just about everywhere else in the Southern United States. This also means its time to be vigilant and safe while using your power equipment. 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010.
Of that number, 17,000 were children who required care in the emergency room because of mower accidents according to the The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In Fact, approximately 200,000 people are injured in lawn mower-related accidents each year. This statistic is reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. One reason for this staggering number of injuries each year is because even though lawn mowers are to be viewed as adult tools, many people consider them toys. The reality is virtually all lawn mower related accidents are completely preventable. Here are some steps to ensure your mowing task is a safe experience for you and others in the mowing vicinity.
Safety steps for adults:
- 1Don’t bypass safety features such as blade brakes and seat switches
These devices stop the mower from operating when disengaged. They are designed to prevent bodily harm caused by your equipment.
- 2Walk the mowing area first to pick up twigs, rocks and other debris
These items can become projectiles that ricochet, possibly injuring you or others in the proximity of your mowing job.
- 3Mow during daylight hours or when there is good visibility
Mowing at night or in any other limited visibility times can decrease safety and increase the possibility of a mowing accident.
- 4Keep blades and other cutting surfaces in good operating condition
Have a professional mower repair shop examine your blade annually for nicks, thinning and other deterioration. Pieces of a damaged or worn blade could dislodge and cause injury. If you prefer to examine the blade yourself before each mowing, be sure to practice the next safety step.
- 5Safety First when you examine the blade or dislodge an object from the blade
REMEMBER – You must unplug the spark plug wire from the spark plug prior to turning the mower on its side and exposing the underside of the mower and blade. This will prevent the possibility of the mower engine accidentally starting. Also, tighten the gas and oil caps to prevent spillage and always tip the mower sideways toward the oil filler cap to protect your engine.
- 6Don’t forget to dress appropriately and use safety gear properly
Never mow unless the operator is dressed appropriately; Long pants, and closed-toe shoes or work boots. Wearing shorts, and sandals or flip-flops while mowing leaves the operater susceptible to injury, especially injuries of the feet and lower legs, as this area is where injuries from debris, rocks and twigs can happen easily. It is also very important to properly use safety glasses and ear protection as well.
Steps to protect children:
- 1Don’t let anyone under 12 use a walk-behind power mower or hand mower
Children should be at least 12-years-old before they operate any lawn mower, Even if they are larger in height or size they may lack the knowledge needed to operate the mower safely.
- 2Don’t let anyone under 16 operate a riding mower
Riding mowers are not a toy and meant to be operated by experienced, responsible drivers over the age of 16 only. Additional passengers should never be allowed on a riding mower, especially children.
- 3Keep young children inside if possible
At a minimum keep all children a safe distance away from where lawn mowers are being operated. Any debris, rocks, twigs and the like could easily become projectiles that pose a serious potential risk of injury.
- 4Never attempt to mow in reverse
If you absolutely must, be certain there are no children nearby and look carefully behind you the entire time.
- 5Don’t let your child ride on your lap while you’re mowing the lawn
This tip ties in with the #2 tip to keep children safe. Although it’s tempting to want to give them a treat, many injuries occur when children fall off the unit and are accidentally run over.
- 6Locking up lawn mowers is recommended when not in use
This will prevent curious children from starting the mower, and also help prevent them from playing on or around the mower.
- 7Children old enough to mow, should wear closed-toed shoes, goggles and other safety gear when mowing
The bottom line is everyone should make safety a priority when using any lawn equipment. Although some of these steps may seem like overkill, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, take safety seriously, and never underestimate the potential dangers of using outdoor power equipment such as lawn mowers, sting trimmers, edgers, and the like. Be sure to refer to your owners manual, and ensure that the operator clearly understands the safe use of the mower, and be sure to double check that the mower is in good operating condition, and all safety devices are also in working order. Never disable or otherwise modify safety devices such as the engine brake, seat switches, etc and never remove, or cover or modify the safety warning labels on your mower and other power equipment. These basic steps, if followed diligently can help ensure you maintain a beautiful lawn safely and avoid serious injury to yourself, the people and property around you.