Avoid a Backyard Tragedy by Taking Lawn Mower Safety Seriously
Summertime means that the grass is growing. You’re probably already getting used to battling weeds and slipping into your “mowing shoes” on the weekends to maintain your lawn. However, lawn mowers are dangerous, whether you use a push mower or a riding unit. Most consumers are not aware of the hazards to others caused by obstructed sight lines resulting from the setup and accessories (such as leaf catchers) riding mowers are equipped with. Some riding mowers are designed so that they cannot be used to mow in reverse, while others can be used to mow while driving backwards even though the operators have an obstructed view of where they are mowing. Lawnmowers can injure, and because the designers and manufacturers of lawn mowers have not eliminated the dangers that are in their control, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself and your family from injury. If you are mowing, make sure you really know all the ins and outs of mowing safety. And if neighbors are mowing their lawns, make sure they know if your kids are going to be on their property.
The Three Most Critical Things You Should Know About Using a Mower
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) offers a wealth of information about using lawn equipment safety, covering all kinds of safety issues with mowers, trimmers, shredders, leaf blowers, and more. In their educational materials, OPEI repeats these three critical tips for using a lawn mower safely:
- Read and follow the manual. If you are going to be the operator of the mower, you should always read the manual for any lawn mower you use and follow all the recommendations for safe use. You should also never use a mower for jobs it isn’t made for.
- Get familiar with how everything works before you get started. Before you take on the lawn, make sure you take a few minutes to get familiar with the controls so you aren’t fumbling when the blades are engaged.
- Make sure you know how to stop the mower and disengage the controls in an emergency. The number-one thing you should know is how to stop the mower in a hurry. Memorize the location of emergency controls, and be ready to stop.
Just following these three simple recommendations can go a long way toward preventing tragic accidents in the backyard. However, there are still some important considerations.
Always Be Aware of Children and Pets When Mowing
Some of the most tragic lawn mower accidents involve children and pets, so it’s important to always know where your kids and pets are before you get started. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid operating in reverse, which can make it hard to see where you’re going. Despite decades of reports of tens of thousands of children being mangled by mowers which can mow in reverse, some manufacturers continue to design and build riding lawn mowers that can be operated in reverse while their blades are engaged. Many companies have designed their mowers so that they cannot be operated in reverse while the blades are going, but not all! Some accessories, such as leaf and lawn clippings catchers can block the operator’s vision around and behind the mower.
- Never let a young child operate a mower, and always supervise teens and older children who mow.
- Turn off the mower when you see children or pets in the area.
- Don’t give children rides on the mower, and make sure they know that the mower is dangerous.
- Keep kids and pets indoors, and let your neighbors know that they should supervise their own children and pets while you’re mowing.
- Keep mowers locked away when not in use, and put the keys somewhere safe.
Other Tips for Safe Mowing
Do you think you’re ready to mow? There are still a lot of things you can do to prepare, including:
- Wearing heavy shoes and appropriate clothes
- Removing rocks and debris from the yard
- Having the right equipment to maintain slopes and irregular terrain
- Using hearing and eye protection
It may seem like a lot to think about before a routine activity like mowing the lawn, but being vigilant about mowing safety could prevent a terrible accident.
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