Parents who happily task their children with mowing the lawn might want to think twice, according to a study published in American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Researchers from the Nationwide Children's Hospital found that on average, 13 kids go to the emergency room every day due to lawn mower-related injuries in the US — and that adds up to 4,800 children per year.
The most commonly reported injuries were cuts (39 percent) and burns (15 percent). Hands and fingers were the most commonly injured body parts followed by legs, feet, and toes.
And as expected, a child's age plays a significant role in what types of injuries they receive. Kids between the ages of age 5 and 17 were more likely to be cut or hit by the lawn mower, whereas younger children were more likely to burn themselves by touching the machine's hot surface.
Dr. Gary Smith, a senior author of the study and director of the Centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, explained that while the number of injuries inflicted by lawn mowers has decreased, parents should still be cautious.
"While we are happy to see that the number of lawn mower-related injuries has declined over the years, it is important for families to realise that these injuries still occur frequently during warm weather months," he said. "Improvements in lawn mower design during the last few decades are likely an important contributing factor in the decrease in injuries. We would like to see manufacturers continue to improve design and include additional needed safety features on all mowers."
Regardless of kids' ages, parents should take the proper precautions to save themselves a hospital trip. Experts recommend:
- Making sure the proper shields are in place to keep little hands from getting too close to the blades.
- Never allowing children to play near the lawn mower, even if it's off.
- Checking that ride-on mowers have automatic safety measures in place, like a no-mow-in-reverse mechanism, to keep kids from getting run over.
- Teaching your children how to use a lawn mower correctly and supervising them while they're mowing. Experts recommend waiting until children turn 12 years old to let them use a push mower and 16 for a ride-on.
- Keeping children under the age of 6 inside while you're mowing the lawn.
- Picking up rocks and other hard objects before you start mowing.
- Always mowing in a forward direction and ensuring that your mower has a control that prevents it from moving if the handle is released.