During the summer, many people have to mow their lawns to keep the grass down. Some use a riding lawn mower, while others use a push mower.
Many people perceive mowing as a safe activity, especially for children and teens, but certain situations can put you in serious danger.
“We talk about tractor safety all the time, but a mower is another piece of equipment that can cause accidents and injuries in an instant,” said Marsha Salzwedel, project scientist with National Farm Medicine Center.
Below are three things you should do before cutting your grass.
Prep the area
Before you get started, you should check and clear your lawn of debris that is in the path of your mower.
A lawn mower can pick up debris and launch it across your yard, potentially causing injuries and damage to property. While picking up debris in your lawn, you should pay special attention to obstacles and other potential hazards. Then come up with a plan to avoid these obstacles while mowing.
Picking up debris before you start mowing also reduces the need to step on and off your mower.
“If you do need to get on and off your mower, always use three points of contact” said Salzwedel. “If you don’t use three points of contact, you can slip and fall, injuring yourself.”
Before you get on or behind a mower, make sure you know how to safely operate it. Someone should demonstrate to you how to safely operate the mower. The operator’s manual is also a good source of information and should be reviewed prior to using equipment the first time.
For mowing, you should wear proper clothing and protect your body. This includes:
- Wearing tight fitting clothing and avoiding clothes with strings so clothing doesn’t get caught in moving parts of equipment.
- Wearing pants and long-sleeve shirts in case of flying debris and for sun protection.
- Wearing closed toed, non-skid shoes to protect your feet and avoid slipping.
- Tying back long hair or tucking it up under a hat.
- Wearing eye and hearing protection.
- Using a sun-safe hat and sunscreen on exposed skin.
Prep your mower
You should inspect your mower to make sure it is mechanically sound and that proper safety features are in place. For larger riding lawn mowers and lawn tractors, ensure the rollover protection structure (ROPS) is in place and wear your seatbelt in case your lawnmower rolls over.
“On a farm, a tractor is the leading cause of death. A rollover is the most common cause of a tractor-related death,” said Salzwedel. “Mowers are used much more often than tractors, so having a rollover protection structure and using your seatbelt is important.”
To reduce the chance of getting injured, make sure you have the strength to safely maneuver, reach and operate the controls of your mower. Injuries on riding lawn mowers can result when an operator has to stretch to reach the controls or struggles to turn the mower.
Even push mowers can cause injuries when the operator is not strong enough to maneuver them, sometimes running over their own feet, slipping or colliding with other objects or people.
If you are involved in a mower accident that requires immediate medical attention, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department. Ensure youth understand to call an adult anytime equipment malfunctions or if there is an emergency.