Lawn mowers can cause serious injuries—especially among children—if they are not used safely and properly, remind physicians from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in a medical minute.

“We need to remind people that these are dangerous machines, and the consequences are devastating,” said Mariano Garay, a fourth year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine who has studied the subject of lawn mower injuries in children, in the release.

According to Garay, the number of lawn mower injuries statewide has remained about the same during the past decade.

“The blade is so sharp and it is going so fast that body parts are no match for it,” said Amy Morgan, program manager for the Pediatric Trauma and Injury Prevention Program at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children age six and younger be kept indoors during mowing, the release continues.

“The mower is loud and the operator can’t always see or hear a small child who may run out in front or sneak up behind,” Morgan says. “Children that young assume that adults are looking out for them, but adults who are mowing are focused on the task at-hand. It’s a set-up for injury.”

Young children playing in the yard while the lawn mower is in use can also be injured by sticks, rocks, and other projectiles that get spit out. As a preventive measure, Morgan recommends walking through the yard before mowing to make sure toys and all debris have been removed.

She also reminds parents and grandparents never to look at riding lawn mowers as recreational vehicles. “Never allow a child – or another adult for that matter – to ride on one with you,” she states, in the release. “We commonly see children with severe injuries from that.”

The AAP says children older than 12 should be able to use a walk-behind lawn mower safely, while teens age 16 and older should be able to safely operate a riding mower. Morgan says that parents need to combine those recommendations with what they know about their child’s coordination, maturity level, and good judgment.

“In our suburban communities, a lawn mower is one of the biggest pieces of machinery around the home that a child could use,” Morgan shares. “It’s important that adults teach their children how to use it safely and supervise them until you feel they can handle the responsibility.”

General safety tips for both teens and adults include making sure the mower is turned completely off before trying to remove clogged grass from blades, as well as wearing sturdy shoes to mow rather than sandals or flip flops that can cause one to trip or become injured by debris spit from the mower, the release adds.

“One of the things we can do is remind everyone operating these machines about the dangers they pose,” Garay concludes. “These injuries are preventable.”

[Source(s): Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Newswise]

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