Ask Dr. Forseth: Lawn Mower Summer Safety

These tips will protect you and your family from lawn mower-related injuries as you tackle yard work this summer.

The scent of fresh-mown grass is one of the most evocative harbingers of summer, but it also signals the season when we want to talk with our patients about practicing lawn mower safety. Thousands of adults and children are hurt every year in accidents involving lawnmowers. Most of these injuries are preventable if families follow a few prevention guidelines.

Summit’s Dr. Forseth recently spoke with Minnesota Parent about teaching children safety habits for summer activities. Safety education is just as important for summer chores as it is for summer play—and the lessons apply to parents as well as children.

“Involving children in summer chores is a terrific way to encourage active fitness and teach responsibility,” says Dr. Forseth. “However, it is important to assign chores that are appropriate to a child’s maturity level and physical ability, and to lead by example when it comes to safety habits. We want families to spend time enjoying the yard—not coming to our office with an injury that needs medical care.”

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers a number of guidelines that families can use to teach and practice lawn mower safety.

  • Give your mower a safety inspection. Any mower parts that are sharp, or that become hot with use, should be shielded by a protective cover. Riding mowers should have a reverse switch, and push mowers should stop when the handle is released.
  • Children under the age of 12 are not old enough to operate a mower safely. Young children should be indoors when the mower is in use. If they must be in the yard, they should always be at least 20 feet from the mower while it is in operation. A child should be at least 12 years old before operating a push mower, and at least 16 years old to use a riding mower. Never allow a passenger on a riding mower.
  • Remove objects before you mow. Don’t cut the grass until you have removed any toys, rocks, branches, or other debris in the yard.
  • Use safety equipment. Avoid sandals and protect your feet with sturdy footwear. Wear safety glasses and hearing protection while the mower is in operation.

Following these guidelines can help families make yard work a healthy component of an active lifestyle. We want you to safely enjoy all that summer has to offer.

 

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  • Michael Forseth, M.D.

    “Volunteering overseas, in places like Haiti, Columbia, and Honduras, continues to be a positive influence on my practice. My experiences there have broadened my perspective about what I do here — personally and professionally.”

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