Mowing the lawn around children at play could present a danger and the potential for serious injury, especially when working with a power lawn mower. State health officials warn that children can be severely injured from contact with the high-speed rotating blades of a lawn mower.
“When children are present, mowing the lawn can be a dangerous activity and lead to injuries,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., medical director, Injury Prevention Program at the Indiana State Department of Health. “These injuries can be prevented by keeping children safely away from areas of the yard that are being mowed.”
According to the National Agricultural Safety Data, a rotary mower blade whirls at 2,000 or 4,000 revolutions per minute, or at 100 to 200 miles per hour. For safety reasons, it is important to know how to quickly disengage the clutch and stop the engine.
Between the years 2003-2008 in Indiana, 38 percent of all lawn-mower related injuries that were serious enough to require hospitalization involved children less than 16 years of age. Over half (62%) of these hospitalizations involved children 6 years of age or younger.
“The majority of lawn mower-related injuries to children are to the legs, feet, or toes,” said Dr. Duwve. “Lawn mowers have sharp, rotating blades that can cut through skin and bones, or throw objects like sticks and rocks, and cause severe injuries. Lawn mowers also get very hot during use, and children who touch a lawn mower even after it has been stopped, may get burned.”
According to state health officials, it’s not just the lawn mowers themselves that can cause injury. Young children can fall or slip into the operating mower blade while playing and running nearby. Children can be injured while operating the mower themselves when too young to do so, or when preschoolers and school-age children fall off a mower while riding with an adult. Children can be injured when mowers are placed into reverse and the operator is not aware a child is behind them. Rocks or other objects can be thrown by the mower and strike a child, especially in the eyes or the head.
Health officials say that children most commonly come in contact with lawn mower blades either while operating the mower themselves when too young, or are preschoolers and school-age children who fall off a mower while riding with an adult.
To help ensure the safety of children, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to parents:
- While mowing the lawn, keep others especially young children, away to ensure their safety;
- Don’t allow children younger than 16 to use ride-on mowers and do not allow children younger than 12 to use walk-behind mowers;
- Use only a power mower with a control that stops the mower if the handle is let go, and be certain this control is never disconnected;
- Ensure an adult adjusts the blade settings to set the wheel height or to dislodge debris, and only when the mower is off and the spark plug is removed or disconnected;
- Wear sturdy shoes and protective eyewear while operating the mower;
- Use hearing protection to prevent hearing loss from constant exposure to loud lawn mower noise; and
Pick up objects from the lawn, like stones or toys, before mowing.