When I was a kid, mowing the lawn was my least favorite chore. It was probably my most dangerous chore as well — I often mowed grass in my comfy sandals or sneakers. I even mowed barefoot on occasion.
Despite setting myself up for disaster, I was never injured. I was one of the lucky ones.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010 — nearly 17,000 of them children under age 19.
As long as grass grows, lawns will be mowed. But you can make sure the chore is done safely.
Erika Janes, coordinator, Safe Kids Louisville, a program led by Norton Children’s Hospital, offers the following safe mowing tips:*
- Keep children out of the yard while mowing.
- Use a mower equipped with a control that stops the blade when you let go of the handle.
- Children should be at least 12 years old before using a push mower and at least 16 before using a lawn mower or tractor.
- Wear sturdy shoes while mowing; do not wear sneakers, sandals or go barefoot.
- Check the lawn for sticks, rocks and toys before mowing.
- Wear protective eye gear at all times.
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary but if you must, look carefully behind you.
- Always turn the mower off and wait for the blades to stop before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
- Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawn mowers.
- Do not allow children on riding mowers.
- Drive up and down slopes, not across, to prevent mower rollover.
- Be sure your lawn mower is serviced before each lawn-mowing season and keep it in good working order.
- Do not mow wet grass.
*American Academy of Pediatrics and Consumer Product Safety Commission