When it’s time to buy a lawn mower, the last thing on your mind is your child losing a limb. Yet, that’s exactly what happens far too often. Lawn mowers may be perfect for keeping your lawn looking fantastic, but you need to go over some safety tips with your children before you assign it as one of their chores, or they go out to play while you’re on the mower.
Lawn mower amputations are more common than you may think
It’s easy to assume that most, if not all, lawn mower amputations happen because a child is using a push mower. While this is certainly possible, riding mowers are also responsible for some of these accidents, and many times the child isn’t even on the mower.
Inside Edition reported a five-year-old boy who decided to chase his dad on the mower and got caught underneath. His right foot had to be amputated, as well as his left leg from the knee down. It was a traumatic event, but after receiving some running blades, he’s playing soccer with his friends.
According to another Inside Edition article, a six-year-old boy had a similar accident. He was running after his mom while she was on the riding lawn mower. She had no idea he was behind her and began to back up. She ran over his left foot when she did, which had to be amputated.
The statistics for child amputations are grim
The statistics posted by Enabling the Future show a grim trend. The number of amputations among children caused by lawn mower accidents is extremely high.
Out of 800 lawn mower accidents amongst children in the U.S., 600 result in amputations. Another statistic revealed that over 20,000 people are injured every year, and 75 people on average die from their injuries. Out of those 75 deaths, one in five are children, or 15 children every year.
Most of these injuries are due to children running behind the mower. Another significant part of the injuries is people allowing children to ride in their laps. A split second is all it takes for a child to slip and fall under the lawn mower.
Other causes of injuries include children being run over when the lawn mower is placed in reverse and mowers tipping over on them. This applies to tractors as well.
While it may not seem like a big deal, as lawn mowers aren’t exactly like riding go-karts or dirt bikes, you have to consider the blades. According to Check Up Newsroom, a lawn mower blade can turn up to 150 to 200 mph. The blades are all the more deadly because they can also pick up debris and turn it into a high-speed projectile.
How can you keep yourself and your kids safe?
While having fun is important, you need to do so while also being safe. The critical thing to remember is the vast majority of lawn mower injuries are completely avoidable, according to OrthoInfo.
The first step to lawn mower safety is educating your kids. They need to understand that it is not a toy, and you’re not out there to play when it’s time to mow. Playtime can come later.
With that being said, your children need to remain inside while you’re on the lawn mower or tractor. This helps you work while they stay safe. If you have a little one who is prone to running outside no matter what you tell them, perhaps have them stay with a babysitter or relative while you take care of the lawn.
Another tip is to always look behind you before putting the lawn mower in reverse. If you’re shopping for a lawn mower, some have the reverse gear placed behind the driver so that you’re forced to turn and look.
Don’t allow children to ride double with you, and don’t assign your child to cut the grass with a push mower until they are 12. They should be 16 before they use a riding lawn mower.
No matter who is running the mower, close-toe shoes will help protect your feet. It may not prevent an accident, but the injuries may be less severe than if you’re wearing open-toe shoes.
Finally, make sure toys, rocks, and other debris are picked up before you begin to mow so that they don’t become projectiles. If you want your children to help out, this may be a more suitable job for them until they’re older.