As the weather heats up, many of us are finding ourselves outside soaking up the sunshine and taking care of routine yard duties like trimming the hedges and mowing our lawns. When we think about home hazards and injuries, injuries associated with riding and pushing lawn mowers might not be the first to come to mind, but the risks are definitely there.
A study published by Public Health Reports in 2018 reported that “Each year across the United States, 6,394 people, on average, sustain serious injuries — including burns, cuts and broken bones — in lawn-mower accidents.”
To help you keep safety top of mind as you head outdoors to tackle your lawn, we’ve put together a shortlist of eight lawn mower safety tips to follow.
1. Check the Lawn for Debris
Before cranking up and heading out, do a quick check of the lawn for any debris like large sticks, stones, toys, trash or other objects that could become projectiles or ruin your mower blades. That all too common “clack” can turn into trouble that no one wants to deal with.
2. Don’t Cut Wet Grass
Contrary to what might seem like a good idea to get out early in the morning while the dew is on the ground, cutting on wet grass not only creates a bad look but can also be dangerous. If you’re using a push mower, you could potentially slip and fall, putting yourself in harm’s way of the mower. If you walk out on the lawn and your shoes get wet, it’s best to wait until the lawn is clear of moisture before cutting.
3. Wear Protective Gear
Long-sleeved shirts and pants are much more protective than a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. Additionally, instead of sandals (although it may be nice weather outside) wear closed-toe shoes or boots to help prevent any foot-related injuries. Lastly, also consider wearing protective goggles and headphones for keeping grass and dust out of your eyes, as well as protecting your ears from sustained sound that could be damaging.
4. Keep the Kids Away
While your little helpers might want to jump in, it’s not safe for them to ride on the lawn mower with you or play in the yard while you’re mowing. According to Public Health Reports, “children up to age 4 are more likely to have foot or lower-extremity injuries and [are] more likely to have amputation than those 15 and older.” Projectiles like rocks and sticks could cause children to get hurt. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “kids…be 12 or older to use a push mower and at least 16 to operate a riding mower.”
5. Be Careful When Mowing on a Hill
If you have a hill or incline, instead of mowing from side-to-side on a riding mower, move from top-to-bottom if your landscape permits. If the incline is too steep, considering weed-eating instead. The problem with mowing on an incline from left-to-right with a riding mower is potential tipping, putting you at risk of the lawn mower falling on top you. If you have a push mower, it’s better to move from side-to-side than from top-to-bottom on an incline to prevent the mower from rolling back on you.
6. Be Careful When Mowing Near the Road
If you have to mow near a road or highway, keep an eye out for cars. Sometimes drivers aren’t aware that someone is mowing until they’re very close and may have to swerve, putting anyone in the oncoming lane at risk. Only tackle the edge of the road when the way is clear.
7. Turn Off the Blades When Crossing Gravel
This is very self-explanatory, but don’t forget to turn off the blades when you’re crossing gravel such as in a driveway. You could end up throwing rocks and hitting a window or damaging a car.
8. Take Out the Keys When Finished
If you have a mower with a key ignition, leaving them in the switch might be convenient, but this can pose a hazard if you have children who are prone to hop on the lawn mower. When the work is done, take out the keys and hang them up in a safe place.
Cutting the grass might seem like a simple routine, but it can be easy to forget the simple things that can help keep us and our loved ones safe. Keep these mower safety tips top of mind before your next round.