Lawnmower safety

Lawnmower Safety

Lawn care is synonymous with summertime. It can be a great way to relieve stress - and to make the neighbors look bad! Summertime is lawn mowing season, and sadly, mowers cause many injuries to both children and adults. There are over 180,000 lawnmower accidents each year in the United States, many of which require emergency medical care. 4,800 of these injuries put children in the hospital. Lawnmower-related injuries are almost 100% preventable as long as the operator knows the risks and ensures that proper precautions take place when mowing.

Lawnmower Injuries

  • Burns. When the mower is running, the engine will become very, very hot. Just like with a car, some mowers run by burning gasoline. This fuel burns at 495 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about as hot as an oven broiler. Imagine this amount of heat applied to a lawnmower’s metallic surface for an extended period. It only takes 150 degrees for someone to receive a third-degree burn within seconds of exposure. After turning off the mower, be aware that it will take several minutes for the engine to cool down.
  • Cuts. As of 2018, research established that 47% of lawn mower-related injuries are in the form of cuts and lacerations, making them the most common injuries caused by these machines. These types of damages can range from mild to severe and may or may not require an emergency room visit. Some lacerations may be severe enough to require amputation. Cuts involving central veins or arteries will require immediate medical attention.
  • Projectiles. Injuries can happen to people who aren't operating the mower. Before mowing, always check the lawn for objects such as rocks, wires or broken glass.  Dangerous projectiles flung from the blades of mowers can cause serious injury to people within the area of a machine in use.  Anyone operating a lawn mower of any kind should make sure to create an imaginary ‘Danger Zone’ with a radius of at least 20 feet in every direction. This helps ensure that there are no innocent bystanders that could get hurt.
  • Broken Bones. Lawnmowers are also more than capable of breaking bones. Broken bones caused by mowers most commonly occur in the fingers, hands, and feet. These fractures occur when someone comes into direct contact to the mower blade, usually when someone reaches underneath the mower to clear out debris or accidentally places a foot underneath while pushing an active mower. In addition, objects thrown from underneath the machine can have a substantial impact that is strong enough to break ribs and fracture skulls.
  • Amputations. In the United States, lawn mower accidents are the leading cause of amputations in children. That isn’t to say that this does not happen to adults as well. A study spanning between 2006 and 2013 shows that there were over 11,000 mower-related amputations in both children and adults, with most being children. Parents should never allow their child to ride along while operating a riding mower, and they should also make sure that pets and children are indoors before running any mower.

Safety Tips

  • Operator’s manual. As with any other machine, power tool, or device, lawn mower owners MUST read the operator’s manual for the machine before using it. These manuals will educate the operator and ensure safe practices with the mower.
  • Maintenance. Just as with a car, regular maintenance keeps a mower in good working condition and prevents parts from wearing out. Worn out parts can put pressure on the mower and could lead to serious injury.
  • Lawn check. Before operating a lawn mower, it is a good idea to first inspect the lawn for any objects that could either get stuck in the blades or become dangerous projectiles. Items such as rocks, toys, wires, and random debris can not only do damage to the mower, they can also become airborne and hurt someone.
  • Footwear. Never operate any lawn mower while wearing open-toed shoes or sandals. Always wear appropriate footwear that covers the foot and toes safely.
  • Mower blades. Though common sense for most, it is dangerous to insert hands or feet underneath the mower where the blade is located. Even if the power is off, the blade may still be spinning. Instead, use a broomstick or something similar to remove anything from underneath. When moving an inactive mower, do not place hands underneath the machine for transport. Idle blades are still sharp and can cut fingers.
  • Surroundings. Be aware of anyone or anything that can become a victim of a mowing accident. Remember that a lawn mower has the potential to cause harm from over 20 feet away.
When mowing the lawn this summer, keep in mind that a lawn mower is a machine with a very sharp blade. The design intention is to efficiently and effectively cut things into pieces, but they can cause very serious harm to people. By taking the proper safety measures, mowing the lawn won’t have to be a dangerous chore this season.