Power Lawn Mower Injuries Crop up with Change of Season
here, the sky is blue, the grass is green and it’s time to give
that lawn a trim. But beware: Lawn mower injuries are a seasonal threat
to children and the leading cause of amputations in adolescents, say
specialists from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Maryland's
designated pediatric trauma center where the most severe injuries are
number-one advice to parents is: Treat the lawn mower as hazardous
equipment, not a toy, says Carol Gentry, R.N., pediatric OR nurse
manager. You don't let a child play with an electric saw, and
that’s exactly what a lawn mower is.
lawn mower accidents send 9,400 U.S. children to the hospital, causing
injuries more severe than any other tool or device, research shows. The
most common injuries are lacerations, fractures and amputations of the
fingers, hands, toes, feet and legs.
occur when an operator is unaware that a child is behind the mower and
shifts into reverse, backing over the child.
Of the lawn
mower accidents seen among patients at the Children’s Center
between 2000 and 2005, 95 percent were amputations that required
reattachment or reconstructive surgery. Every year, we see several
children so badly injured by lawn mowers that they need amputation or
extensive reconstructive surgery, said Dr. Rick Redett, director of
reconstructive and plastic surgery at the Children’s Center. Many
more children end up in local emergency departmentswith a variety of
Redett says, pediatricians see the first such injuries in late April,
but this year, the first case came in March. He and his colleagues
throughout the state and nation are alerting parents and other child
caregivers to the dangers and providing tips for preventing such
- Keep children under 6 years old indoors while a power mower is in operation.
- Let no child under 12 use a walk-behind mower.
- Keep children under 16 off ride-on mowers, even if with a parent.
- If you are
mowing and you see a child running toward you, turn off the mower
immediately. Children can fall and slip into the blade, especially if
the grass is wet.
- Wear protective goggles and close-toed shoes when operating a mower or when near one.
- Before mowing, clean the lawn of debris such as sticks and stones, which may get caught in the blades and propelled out.
- If injury occurs, call 911 right away and apply pressure to the wound to stop bleeding while you await an ambulance.
- Buy mowers
with a no-reverse safety feature that requires the operator to turn
around (and see behind him) in order to shift into reverse.
For more information on the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, visit www.hopkinschildrens.org.