Mowing is such a common chore, we often approach it casually. But careless mower operation can lead to devastating injuries.
“As a physician, I treat the results of many lawn-mower accidents,” says Dr. Steven Lawrence, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at University of Kentucky. “The wounds we see in our clinic range from simple cuts and burns, to traumatic amputations and life-threatening injuries.”
More than 10 million mowers are in operation in the U.S., and more than 200,000 mowing-related injuries occur annually, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons via a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report. The foot and ankle are the body parts most vulnerable to mower injury.
“Unfortunately, patients often have devastating, lifelong physical and emotional consequences as a result of these common injuries,” Lawrence says.
“And all too often, the victims we see are children. As doctors, we know how to treat complex foot and ankle injuries—but we would rather see people avoid lawn-mower accidents in the first place.”
Some safety tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
• Children younger than 12 should not operate push mowers, and no one younger than 16 should operate a riding mower.
• Never let a second person ride or jump on a mower while it is running.
• Ensure that your push-mower blade stops turning when the control handle is released. Riding mowers should stop when the rider leaves the seat.
• Always wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.
• Wear long pants to protect legs.
• Before mowing, scan the lawn to remove toys, hoses, tools, and large rocks—they could become projectiles.
• Keep children out of the mowing area.
• Don’t mow wet grass. You could slip, finding your feet in the path of the blades.
• Use extra caution on banks and slopes.
• Try to avoid pulling a mower backward.
• Use eyewear and ear protection.
• To prevent burns, never refuel a mower when the engine is hot.