Summer means pool time, camping adventures, and other outdoor fun. But it also means yard maintenance. Unfortunately, as Americans dust off their trusty lawn mowers, the risk of injuries also increases. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of safety best practices, especially with walk-behind mowers. Though mowing feels routine, don’t lose sight of the potential dangers.
Here are a few walk-behind lawn mower rules you should never break.
Prepare before firing up the lawn mower
You’ve probably been mowing your lawn for years. And with that experience comes a false sense of safety. Before you start your walk-behind mower, make sure you’re dressed properly.
Don’t wear sandals or mow barefooted. The University of Michigan also recommends wearing long pants to protect your legs from thrown debris or objects. And despite your comfort with mowing, it’s always best to wear eye protection.
Keep others away from your lawn mower
When you’re ready to mow, make sure no neighbors or family members occupy the yard space. Flying debris from a lawn mower can be hazardous or even deadly. You might not see that rock, branch, or walnut in time to veer away. As a result, your push mower could turn an innocent piece of yard debris into a deadly projectile.
Those hazards can be maintenance nightmares for your mower components and blades, too.
Keep your hands to yourself during operation
When the grass gets tall, it can easily clog your walk-behind lawn mower during operation. You might feel like saving time by trying to unclog things on the fly. But experts, including the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, say never put your hands or feet near the mower to remove grass. Even with the motor off, the blades might continue to oscillate.
It’s also important to know that you should lift a non-running walk-behind mower with care. Wear maintenance gloves before attempting to turn your mower over. And don’t lift it by placing your hands near blade clearance areas. Even a non-rotating blade can cut fingers.
Protecting your children around lawn mowers
Children enjoy being outdoors when you’re outdoors. And there are toy mowers kids love to push around, pretending to mow like you. But you must take every step to ensure no children are present when you start a walk-behind mower. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh warns that children can quickly be injured, even across the yard, due to flying debris.
Also, never allow children to play on or around a lawn mower, even when it’s off. The blades present hazards, as can other components. Teach them early that mowers are not toys, despite the similarities with their own plastic versions. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child under the age of 12 be allowed to operate a mower. And even in those circumstances, consider all best safety practices and maintenance. Constant supervision and awareness are your best lines of defense.
So don’t get too comfortable when mowing the lawn this summer. Instead, remember the above safety tips to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors.