As lawn mowing season gets underway in much of the country, safety experts are putting out a warning: Watch out for the kids.
Several cases of children seriously injured in mowing incidents have made the news last year:
* A 2-year-old girl in Florida lost both of her feet when her father backed over her with a riding lawn mower.
* A 4-year-old boy in Tennessee had severe cuts on his arms and legs after a lawn mower ran over him.
* A 2-year-old Maryland boy was in critical condition after a lawn mower he was riding with his grandfather overturned into a creek.
Such accidents are not unusual: In 2011, 3,780 kids 14 or under were among 83,291 people treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for lawn mower injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Data from the commission shows that when visits to doctors’ offices and clinics are included, more than 17,000 children and teens are treated for such injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“These can be life-changing injuries for children, but they are totally preventable,” says Steven Lovejoy, an orthopedic surgeon at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville. He analyzed lawn mower injuries for a report published in 2012. In the most recent case he treated, a 6-year-old boy lost a foot after he fell off a mower driven by a 10-year-old girl, he says. Often, he says, children are hurt while riding on an adult’s lap, as in the Maryland case. “People remember doing that when they were kids and think it’s OK,” he says.
In many other cases, he says, children are hurt when they run up to adults who are operating mowers and do not see or hear the children coming. That’s why he advises adults to “always know where your children are,” when mowers are in use.
Here are some additional safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups:
~ Don’t allow children under age 12 to operate a push mower or those under 16 to drive a riding mower.
~ When children and adolescents are old enough to use mowers, teach them safety steps such as wearing goggles and sturdy shoes.
~ Do not allow children to ride on mowers as passengers.
~ Keep children off the lawn while mowing.
~ Pick up potential flying objects, such as stones and toys, before you start mowing.
~ Do not pull a mower backward or ride it in reverse unless absolutely necessary. If you do mow backwards, carefully look for children behind you.
This article was reprinted from the Children’s Safety Network and was originally published by USA Today.
For more information about lawn mower safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.