Common sense and lawnmower safety (05-22-2006)
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There are a several do’s and don’ts we learn early in life that we associate as common sense rules. We know not to touch hot items or we get painful burns. And we learn to respect electricity and the life threatening shocks that we can receive from it. However, when it comes to using our lawn mowers, we seem to forget that it too can inflict dangerous results.
As summer approaches, and mowing the lawn becomes a weekend ritual, hospital emergency rooms see an increase of patients with minor to serious injuries from careless use of lawn care equipment, especially lawnmowers.
Here are a few common sense rules that could help prevent many of those injuries:
Always do mower service chores prior to starting the mower while the engine is still cool. This includes fueling. There have been far too many accidental burns from putting gasoline in mowers that have not been cooled before refueling.
Always turn the mower off and be certain the blades are idle before putting anything under the mower deck. Mower blades are responsible for the largest percentage of mower injuries. These blades spin at tremendous speeds and it takes only a fraction of a second for a foot or hand to be mangled. One of the most often careless mistakes is trying to clear the discharge chute while the mower is running.
Soft shoes like tennis shoes, sandals, etc. should be avoided. Wearing heavy leather shoes is not guaranteed protection for toes and feet but they may reduce the severity of injury.
Soles of shoes should provide firm footing and traction on dry turf. Many reported accidents are from individuals mowing slopes and their feet slip and slide under the mower deck. Mowing a lawn that is wet increases this danger and cutting wet grass is not good for the turf either.
When mowing the operator should be the only person in close proximity of the mower. Rocks, sticks, and other debris can be hurled several feet and can cause injury to others in the area.
Never allow a child to ride while mowing. The most tragic of all lawnmower injuries is that to children. A lawn mower, particularly a riding lawn mower, is a fascination to children. If the temptation is too great, then at least never, never engage the blades while you are giving them a ride. It is advisable to not allow children under the age of twelve to even use a push lawnmower.
There will be many hours of lawn mower use over the summer and just a little common sense may keep you or someone you love from being injured.
Published May 22, 2006
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org