Lawn mowers are powerful machines, with the power to injure and maim. While many adults suffer serious injuries, children are at particularly high risk. Every year, lawn mower injuries send 13,000 children to the emergency department, with more than more than 8% of all injuries being serious enough to require hospital admission. More than half of hospitalizations result in amputations, usually in lower extremities. Bystanders and passengers were almost four times more likely than operators to be admitted. The most common types of lawn mower injuries were cuts (39%) and burns (15%). The hand/finger was the most commonly injured body region, followed by the leg, feet and toes. Some of the most devastating lawn mower injuries result from backing up into/over young children while blades are engaged.
Most injuries result from human error rather than mechanical failure. It’s really important to take lawnmower safety very seriously. We’ve amassed safety tips from various sources – get more information from the source links after the tips.
- Know your equipment – read and keep the operator’s manual and instructions.
- Understand safety features. Never disengage them.
- At the beginning of each season, inspect the mower to ensure it is operating well. Check that parts, nuts and bolts are all tight, clean, and in good working order. Never use a damaged mower without having it repaired/checked.
- Before each mow, check to be sure your mower is in good condition and safety mechanisms are in place.
- Don’t mow after dark or during electrical storms. Avoid mowing wet grass.
- If your lawn mower is electric, use a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electric shock.
- Always stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling.
- Before mowing, pick up any stones, branches, toys or other objects in the grass.
- Don’t mow over gravel.
- Dress for safety. Use safety glasses, hearing protection and wear sturdy shoes. No bare feet, exposed toes.
- Always mow going forward. Do not mow in reverse unless necessary, and always check first. Avoid pulling lawn mowers to you.
- Use extra caution when mowing a slope or a hill.
- Never make any adjustments while the mower is running.
- Shut it off when not in use. Do not allow motors to run unattended.
- Keep pets inside while mowing.
Safety for kids
- Keep young children (age 1 to 6) inside while mowing is going on.
- Never let children be passengers on ride-able mowers.
- Children should be at least 12 to use a push mower and at least 16 to operate a ride-able mower.
- Teach teens how to operate the mower safely and run through a safety checklist.
Sources and more information
Insurance Information Institute: Lawnmower Safety
Consumer Reports: 5 ways to stay safe when mowing the lawn
MedlinePlus: Lawn Mowers Are Risky Business for Kids
The Family Handyman: Top Ten Mower Safety Tips
Healthy Children: Lawn mower safety