Children and Lawn Mower Safety

When we hear of accidental deaths of children involving a moving vehicle, we usually think an automobile was involved.  However, during the spring and summer months another moving vehicle can cause injuries and even deaths in children.

Lawn mower accidents among children can be a big problem in spring and summer.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), estimates that around 17,000 children require care in the emergency room yearly because of lawn mower accidents.

A few recent lawn mower accidents and tragedies include the following.

In Charlestown, Rhode Island, a  father on a riding mower ran over the arm of a 22-month-old boy when the boy reached through an enclosure.

A 3-year-old boy from Tabor City, North Carolina, died after being run over by a lawn mower he was riding on.  He was riding on the mower with his older cousin when the cousin stopped to move a trampoline and the toddler placed the mower in gear, fell off and was run over.

In Isabella County, Michigan, a 7-year-old boy had his foot severed after he fell off a riding mower.  The boy was on the mower with his father when he fell off.

A four-year-old girl in Hot Springs, Montana, lost her left leg when she fell off the lawn mower she was riding on with her dad.

These incidents remind us how important is is to keep lawn mower safety in mind.  This is especially true if you have kids. 

Unfortunately, most people thin of mowers as yard equipment and not as dangerous items. 

The AAP, along with four other well-known medical societies, released a statement entitled Children and Lawn Mowers:  A Dangerous Combination.  In this publication, the AAP encourages parents to wait until children are at least 12 before letting them mow lawns, and they caution parents not to allow children to play anywhere near the operation of either a push or ride-on mower.  Listed below are some of their recommendations.

  • The minimum age for operating a push mower should be 12.
  • The minimum age for operating a riding mower should be 16.
  • The use of sturdy, close-toed shoes.  No sandals or flip-flops should be worn.
  • Make sure to pick up debris before mowing.  Debris includes sticks, stones, toys – anything that is not grass or weeds in the yard.
  • Make sure to wear both ear and eye protection.
  • Use the type of push mower that automatically stops moving forward when the handle is released.
  • Do not allow children to ride along with adults or teens on ride-on mowers.
  • Teach children to play far from anyone who is operating a lawn mower.

It’s wise, if you have young children, to teach them to play somewhere besides the yard when you are mowing

Older children need to be taught lawn mowing safety guidelines.  These include wearing sneakers or other close-toed shoes, wearing goggles to protect their eyes, and wearing ear protection.  It is wise for whoever is mowing the lawn not to listen to an mp3 or other music source with the sound cranked up to drown out the sound of the mower. If music is loud enough to drown out the sound of a mower, it’s too loud to hear someone coming up behind you or someone yelling for you to turn off the mower.

Finally, remember that safety takes precedence over  things like  how even the lawn is mowed or how professional the lawn looks when it comes to kid’s lawn mower use.  Make sure you demonstrate proper safety techniques and always check on beginner mowers until you are sure they are adept at mowing lawns.