We are enjoying our time outdoors and the green lawns. However, our grass needs mowing about one time per week this time of year. This requires a mower- namely our teenage son- to help out with the lawn maintenance. As parents, we are concerned about our children’s safety. Lawn mowers can be dangerous machines if not used properly. Here are some tips taken from the AAP Policy statement Lawn Mower Injuries to Children to help you and your kids stay safe.
First: According to the AAP, the child should be at least 12 years old to learn how to operate a lawn mower safely. He or she should also show good judgement and maturity as well as being physically strong enough to handle the task.
The AAP also recommends that they be 16 years old to operate a riding lawn mower. Small children should not ride with an adult on the riding mower while it is in operation.
Take time to go over the proper operation of the mower with your child. Certain safety features are essential such as a handle that controls the blades and stops the mower if released for walk behind mowers. On riding mowers, use a model that will not operate unless an adult sized person is seated on the mower.
Second: Prepare the yard before mowing. The blades of a mower can send objects flying, so clear the yard of toys, rocks and limbs that might get run over. Also be sure all children are supervised and away from the area to be mowed.
Do not mow during bad weather or when there is not enough daylight to properly see. Do not cut wet grass or use the mower in the rain.
Check the lawn mower to be sure the protective guards, shields and grass catcher are all in place and working. For gas mowers, be sure to fuel up when the engine is cool.
Third: While mowing the lawn, wear the proper shoes for the job. These should be closed toe shoes with good traction. Long pants are preferred as well as safety glasses with side shields to prevent flying objects from injuring the mower. Hearing protection is also important as the noise of the motor can damage hearing over time.
Do not mow in reverse- the mower will not function as well and there is risk of slipping and being injured by the blades as you pull backwards. For riding mowers, be very careful to check for children or pets if you must mow in reverse.
Mowing on a steep slope is also dangerous. For walk behind mowers, mow across the face of the slope, not up and down to avoid slipping under the mower. For riding mowers, it’s the opposite- mow up and down a slope to avoid tipping over.
Be alert for children coming into the area while operating the lawn mower. Kids just seem to be attracted to the mower and want to run around near it. The person mowing may not be able to hear them approach. It is recommended that an adult other than the mower be present to supervise children while the lawn mower is in operation.
Finally: Make sure the mower is off and blades stopped before removing the grass catcher or unclogging the discharge chute. Never leave the mower running when you walk away from it. For riding mowers, use caution crossing gravel paths and streets. Be sure the blades have stopped moving so as not to send gravel or other objects flying.