Not many gardeners are aware of this, but in the U.S. alone, over 9000 children end up in the emergency room due to lawnmower accidents and related injuries. According to the US Safety Commission for Consumer Products, over 235,000 adults and about 17,000 children suffered mower injuries back in 2010, ranging from cuts and minor burns, up to broken bones, or even amputations. A lot of time has passed since then, but the mower-related injuries stats continue to reveal frightening numbers.
That’s why it’s so important to know all of the lawnmower safety features and guidelines before starting the lawn maintenance. More importantly, before leaving your children anywhere near a mower. Here are the eight most crucial lawnmower safety tips and guidelines:
1. Adequate Footwear
Let’s face it, the sharp spinning blades of a mower could cut through almost any type of material. So even if you’re wearing thick boots or leather shoes, your feet are still at risk. That’s not to say that footwear is irrelevant, on the contrary. Hopping on a mower dressed in sandals is entirely out of the question! This type of shoe is less stable, thus increasing the risk of tripping, slipping or stumbling and coming in contact with the mower’s blades.
2. Parental Control
Before even thinking of showing your child how to use a mower, he or she should have already reached a certain level of maturity. Be sure you see good judgment, high coordination skills, strength, and ability. According to the American Pediatrics Academy, your child should be at least 12 years of age to operate a hand mower or a walk-behind power model. And when it comes to riding one, the child should be at least 16 years old to comply with lawnmower safety rules.
3. Missile Prevention
Another major precaution you need to take using the mower is clearing the lawn of any objects. They may interfere with the blades and end up firing away towards yours or your neighbor’s house. We’re talking items such as stones, tree branches, sprinkles, toys, or any other sharp small objects lying in your garden. Your mower can quickly turn either one of these into fast, powerful and extremely dangerous missiles.
4. Lawn Mower Safety Features
To eliminate the risk of cutting yourself, you should consider opting for a rear engine riding mower. Most of the lawnmower models available on the market feature advanced control systems. They detect operator presence and automatically shut down the mower blades when you dismount or rise from your seat. They also feature interlocks, which will prevent the engine from starting while your mower is in gear and its blades are engaged.
However, if your lawnmower doesn’t have these features, you should always remove its spark plug before working on its blades. Otherwise, the edges might end up lurching forward, cutting your hands in the process.
5. Avoid Mowing Gravel
There are endless damage possibilities if you run your mower over gravel, while the blades are engaged. However, if you have a gravel walkway in your garden, you should only mow when there is no one around and be as careful and precise as possible.
6. Avoid Pulling Backward
Accidents can happen to anyone, and if you happen to slip and fall, make sure to release the mower first. If you pull it back as you mow and you happen to trip on something, you risk dragging the lawnmower all over you. It will lead to severe body injuries.
7. Protective Gear
We’ve already established that you should wear thick, closed-toe footwear while mowing. However, several other types of protective gear can ensure lawnmower safety. Protective goggles are always a great idea, especially if you mow around gravel. One of the most overlooked gear when operating lawn mowers and other power tools is hearing protection. “No matter how unlikely or far away hearing loss may seem to you, the consequences are never worth the risk. That is why everyone should invest in some high-quality ear muffs if they work with loud noise regularly”, as quoted by tool expert Bob Robinson. You should also wear close-fitting farming gloves and clothes. Another thing to consider is the noise made by the mower.
Studies have shown that extended exposure to sounds higher than 85 decibels can cause severe damage to the human ear. It is the case for most types of power mowers, so hearing protection is mandatory.
8. Avoid Alcohol
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you should never mow your lawn under the influence. The same goes for any other substances that might affect your judgment and precision. Indeed, mowing your lawn is not the same as driving a car in traffic. However, if you operate your mower inebriated, the possible accidents can be just as severe.
All these lawnmower safety tips and guidelines will considerably reduce the risk of injuries for both you and your children. The more lawn mower safety features you’ll have covered, the safer the process will get. However, if you do not maintain your lawnmower in pristine operating conditions, none of them can genuinely prevent a severe accident from happening. So this is our final tip for you. Always look out for loose belts, damaged or missing guards, excessive grass accumulations, or grease.
Have your mower checked by qualified service dealers periodically, preferably once or twice a year. Make sure to check all the precautions enlisted above, and you will be safe and sound.