• Diane Bowman, CMA, CCRC

Mowing Your Yard Without Maiming Your Children

As the quintessential sounds of summer begin to surround us, sprinklers running, birds chirping, lawnmowers buzzing, and children playing, it’s important to remember the last two of these don’t mix well.

It only takes meeting one person with long-term, crippling damage from a childhood mower accident to decide mowing safety measures are decidedly worthwhile.

One set of Iowa parents became advocates for mower safety after their toddler ran behind a mower and sustained multiple injuries. You can read their story here:

In this article of AAP voices, Dr. Dale Jarka describes accidents with mowers and children as the call all pediatric orthopedic surgeons dread. She recounts the feelings of a surgeon as they brace themselves to try to save a child’s limb and possibly their life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics gives the following recommendations to ensure safety while mowing for both you and your children:

  • Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.

  • Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers.

  • Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.

  • Make sure that sturdy shoes are worn while mowing.

  • No bare feet, open-toed shoes or flip flops.

  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins.

  • Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.

  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.

  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.

  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.

  • Keep children out of the yard while mowing.

  • Only use lawn power equipment with adequate daylight, not at twilight.

  • Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.

  • Keep guards, shields, switches, and safety devices in proper working order at all times.

  • If children must be in the vicinity of running lawnmowers, they should wear polycarbonate protective eye wear at all times.

  • Lawn mower injuries to children are often extremely traumatic and can include amputation, death and emotional distress that can last a lifetime.

For more information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics or watch the video below.

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