MILWAUKEE (7/22/2009) - Approximately 68,000 people are treated by hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to lawn mowers each year. More than 9,000 of those treated are children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Children younger than 15 have the most mower accidents of any age group. Most of these injuries are caused by the unsafe use of power lawn mowers rather than a mechanical malfunction. Almost all of these injuries occur while a parent or other relative is driving the lawn mower.
"Lawn mower injuries almost always are devastating, and too often they result in permanent injuries that can include the loss of a limb, or in severe cases, death," said Scott Van Valin, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and assistant professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Pediatrics at The Medical College of Wisconsin. "Not only can this kind of injury affect a child for the rest of his or her life, as you can imagine, it can have serious psychological affects on the parent or relative involved in the accident."
According to Children's Hospital and Safe Kids Wisconsin, parents should take the following precautions to prevent mower injuries:
- Children should stay in the house and under the supervision of another adult while the lawn mower is in use.
- Talk to children about the dangers of lawn movers. Kids need to know that mowers are "revolving knives," and never to approach one while it is running.
- Never let children ride on a lawn mower, even when it is not moving.
- Many injuries occur when children slide off and fall under the mower blades.
- Always look carefully and stop the blades entirely before backing up.
- Clear any and all loose objects from the mower's path.
- Children should not operate lawn mowers until they display appropriate levels of judgment, strength, coordination and maturity. American Academy of Pediatrics general guidelines suggest that children younger than 16 should not operate a riding mower, and children younger than 12 should not operate a push mower.
"Lawn mower injuries easily can be prevented if parents and guardians take the necessary precautions to keep their children safe," said Kristin Lewis, APN, Trauma Program.
For more information about lawn mower safety, visit chhsblog.org, chw.org or knowbeforeyoumow.org.
To interview an expert about lawn mower injuries, contact Rose Davis, Children's Hospital Public Relations at (414) 266-5420 or toll-free (866) 416-1511, or email email@example.com.