It may be back-to-school month, but as far as the weather is concerned, summer is far from over. For most homeowners, that means there’s probably another few months of heavy lawn-mowing ahead. If you’re someone who’s been mowing grass for decades, it’s easy to take safety for granted and overlook the dangers a mower can pose, especially for children. In fact, when the US Consumer Product Safety Commission studied the issue in 2010, they found that nearly 17,000 kids and teens were treated in that year alone for lawn mower-related childhood injuries. To help you keep your family safe this year and for many summers to come, our providers at Children’s Wellness Center have compiled a few lawn mower safety tips.
- Wait until your child is at least 12 to let him/her operate a walk-behind mower, and at least 16 to operate a riding lawn mower. Each child’s maturity varies, but these are the general guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- When your teen is starting to use the lawnmower, give him/her hands-on instruction and supervise until you feel confident that he/she can safely do the chore alone.
- Always keep all children indoors while you mow, and make sure they’re being supervised by someone who can make sure they don’t get outside on their own. Even if they’re in an area that seems safe for kids outdoors, there’s a risk that a rock, stick, or other debris can be thrown from the mower and hurt them, so it’s truly best to keep everyone indoors.
- Teach children that the mower is a dangerous tool, not a toy, and do not let anyone (child or adult) ride as a passenger.
- Avoid reversing the mower if at all possible. If you absolutely must go in reverse, look very carefully for children before and during the back-up.
- Kids have a tendency to leave small toys in the yard, or to track rocks and sticks into the grass. Before you mow, walk through the lawn and remove any debris you find.
- If you need to walk away from your mower, always turn it off before you do. Never leave a running mower unattended.
- Teach your children not to touch the mower, even when it’s not in use. The blades may be sharp enough to make cuts or lacerations even when they’re not in use, and mowers can also remain hot enough to burn the skin for some time after they’re turned off.
- Stay alert while you’re mowing, even if you’re confident that all children are safely and securely indoors. It’s a good idea to avoid wearing headphones, to help you be more aware of your surroundings.
- When it comes to alcohol, prescription medications, or any other substance, don’t use a lawnmower under the influence. A lawnmower can be just as dangerous as a car, so if you aren’t sober enough to drive, you aren’t sober enough to mow.
- While we understand that each family has a budget, use a lawn mower with as many safety features as possible. For instance, many push mowers will stop if they detect that you stop touching the handle, and some riding mowers will stop the blades if the mower is driving in reverse or if the rider gets off the seat. If you’re shopping for a mower, look for one that meets the most up-to-date safety standard: ANSI B71.1-2017.
- Be particularly cautious when you’re approaching any corner, bush, or anything else that could be blocking your view of a nearby child.
- Whether or not your mower is currently in use, always store the gasoline in a locked cabinet that is out of your children’s reach.
It’s certainly possible to maintain a beautifully manicured lawn while keeping your kids safe, and it really just requires planning ahead and staying aware of your surroundings. If you have questions about lawn mower safety or any other topic about your child’s health and safety, contact Children’s Wellness Center. For more helpful tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.