By: Jennifer Laine, M.D.
This week’s wintry weather leaves most of us Minnesotans thinking fondly ahead to spring—and wishing we could do something to speed its arrival! Unfortunately, in other areas of the country, warmer temperatures recently brought horrific news of a lawnmower accident that badly injured a Florida toddler.
As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, stories like this are especially difficult because I see, firsthand, the consequences such injuries can have on children. Although it takes just seconds for an accident to occur, children often struggle with the aftereffects for a lifetime.
A lawnmower blade’s damage to still-developing bones and growth plates can put children at risk for limb-length discrepancies and permanent orthopedic deformities. As we just saw in Florida, children can also lose their limbs entirely.
Whether Minnesotans believe it or not, spring—and mowing season—IS just around the corner. That’s why I hope you’ll take a moment to read these important safety tips, and review them with your loved ones. Serious injuries are, fortunately, 100 percent preventable. Let’s work together for a fun, and a safe, mowing season.
Who Should Mow?
- Children should be at least 12 years-old before operating any lawn mower.
- Children are at least 16 to operate a riding mower.
Before You Mow
- Keep children indoors while mowing.
- Never allow a child to ride on a riding lawn mower with the operator.
- Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
- Never allow children to play on a lawn mower, even if it is turned off.
- Never mow barefoot – wear shoes, not sandals.
- Use eye and hearing protection.
- Only use mowers with automatic shutdown abilities, such as those with a control that stops motion when the handle is released.
- Don’t mow in reverse.
* These safety tips are based on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement, Lawn Mower Injuries to Children.