Cut Down on Lawn Mower Injuries This Summer

Watch out for flying rocks, steep slopes, experts warn

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FRIDAY, June 8, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Lawn mowers remain one of the most dangerous household appliances, sending an estimated 80,000 Americans to hospitals for treatment each year.

Many of those injuries could be prevented by following some simple safety rules, said Dr. Tobias Barker, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

He offered the following advice:

  • Before you start your mower, clear your yard of rocks, sticks, toys and other debris that the lawn mower blade may hit and eject as dangerous projectiles.
  • Don't use a riding mower on steep slopes, where there's a risk of rollover. Instead, use a push mower at reduced speed.
  • Wear long pants and avoid loose-fitting clothing. Sturdy shoes with good soles will help prevent foot injury and provide traction.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes and wear earplugs to help prevent hearing loss.
  • Don't pull the mower backward or mow in reverse. If you must mow backwards, always check for objects and people behind you.
  • Don't leave the mower running while you remove the grass catcher or unclog the discharge chute. Before you do any maintenance on a mower, disconnect the starter or spark plug.
  • Refuel your mower only when the engine is cool in order to avoid the risk of igniting the gas.
  • Don't mow in adverse conditions. A wet lawn reduces traction and increases the risk of an accident. Mowing in hot weather puts you at risk for dehydration and heat stroke.
  • If you have a history of chronic chest or back pain, it may be better to get someone else to mow the lawn.
  • Children under age 16 should not use a riding mower and children under 12 should not use a push mower. Adults should always supervise young, inexperienced mower users.

More information

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more about lawn mowers.

SOURCE: Brigham and Women's Hospital, news release, May 2007

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