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Weekend Doctor: Lawn mower safety tips

By Ibrahim Khansa, MD
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

*Through a collaboration between Blanchard Valley Health System and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the content of this article was provided courtesy of Nationwide’s 700 Children’s® blog by pediatric experts.

In the spring and summer, you often hear the familiar humming sound of lawn mowers. These common machines that are used multiple times each week by teenagers and adults present a danger to children. Every year, more than 9,000 children are injured by lawn mowers in the United States.

A study recently published by the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that lawn mower injuries in children can be quite severe. Lawn mower blades turn very fast and can cause a lot of damage. About one in three lawn mower injuries might lead to limb removal (amputation).

The most common way for kids to get injured by a lawn mower is if they get run over by a riding lawn mower. lawn mowers are loud, and the person operating the lawn mower may not notice a child running towards the lawn mower. Another “no-no” is letting kids ride on a lawn mower with you: if the kid falls off or jumps off, they can get run over by the lawn mower and come into contact with the blade.

Here are some ways you can keep your children safe this summer, while maintaining a beautiful lawn: 

Never let a child ride with you on a lawn mower; maintain a kid-free zone of at least 100 feet when you are mowing, because children can run towards the mower without being noticed; clear loose debris, such as rocks, from the area before mowing; always look behind you if you are driving a lawn mower backwards. In addition, if you are driving backwards, make sure the lawn mower blade is off; riding lawn mowers should only be used by individuals 16 years and older, and push mowers should only be used by individuals 12 years and older.