Story by: Sara Sidery on May 16, 2022
Injuries involving lawn care equipment can have devastating consequences, and families should teach lawn mower safety tips to their children.
Children can be injured or killed during lawn mower accidents, and the hazards extend beyond the piece of equipment alone. Lawn mower blades can rotate at 100 to 200 mph, which is fast enough to fire objects in the yard, such as a rock or stick, like a bullet, potentially injuring anyone in the vicinity.
During the warmer months, lawn mower injuries are common. All lawn mower injuries are traumatic, and some can be devastating. Accidents involving riding lawn mowers, where the operator runs over or backs over a child, are more common in kids under 4. These incidents can lead to monthslong hospital stays and often require dozens of surgeries due to excessive skin loss.
“Kids should not be ‘given rides’ on a lawn mower or ATV [all-terrain vehicle]. It is not a toy,” said Laura K. Jacks, M.D.,pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. “If a child thinks riding it is a fun event, they won’t understand not to approach the mower when it is in use next time, which is the cause of many ‘run over’ and ‘back over’ injuries.”
Proper lawn mower safety protocols involve age restrictions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 12 should not operate a push lawn mower, and children under 16 should not operate a riding lawn mower.
Regardless of age, a child must be strong enough to start the mower and control its direction. For context, most push mowers weigh more than 100 pounds. Parents should take the time to train children on how to operate the lawn mower safely, while kids also should demonstrate enough maturity to use the piece of machinery.
As a rule of thumb, children under 10 should not be allowed outside when any type of lawn mower is in use. Children usually cannot be seen or heard by the lawn mower operator, and young kids are not mature enough to understand how to keep a safe distance.
Our pediatric orthopedic specialists provide specialized care for infants, children and teenagers.
Anyone operating a lawn mower should wear sturdy, close-toed shoes, hearing protection (earplugs or noise-reducing ear muffs), and eye protection (goggles or eyewear with side protection).
Parents should be aware of hazards involving other lawn care tools. Each summer, accidents happen involving children who injure their feet after stepping on a rake or another piece of landscaping equipment. Families should ensure all tools are put away after use and never should allow their children in the yard while barefoot.
According to Dr. Jacks, ATVs should not be driven by anyone who does not have a driver’s license, because “decision-making and risk-taking behaviors are not mature enough in younger ages.”
Accidents with ATVs can cause head injuries, injuries to the spine and/or limbs, and even death.