The power lawn mower is one of the most dangerous tools around the home. Each year, nearly 5,000 children are treated in emergency departments for injuries caused by power mowers. Older children and adolescents are most often hurt while cutting lawns as chores or as a way to earn money.
Lawn mower injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, and eye and other injuries. Some injuries are very serious. Both users of mowers and those who are nearby can be hurt.
To prevent lawn mower injuries to children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
Try to use a mower with a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is let go.
Children and teens younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Use a collection bag for grass clippings or a plate that covers the opening where grass is released. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
Make sure that children are indoors or at a safe distance well away from the area that you plan to mow.
Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or shed. Mowers should be refueled with the motor turned off and cool.
Make sure that blade settings (to set the wheel height or dislodge debris) are done by an adult, with the mower off and the spark plug removed or disconnected.
Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.
Patient education handouts from TIPP—The Injury Prevention Program help pediatricians implement injury prevention counseling for parents of children newborn through 12 years of age.
The information in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.