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Mowing the lawn is not child’s play

On average, 13 children receive emergency medical treatment every day, for a lawn mower-related injury in the United States, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. More than 86,000 adults are treated in an ER each year, for lacerations, partial amputations and eye damage, while cutting the grass.

Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals’ trauma coordinator Regi Geissler, says injuries most commonly happen when people bypass the safety mechanisms on machinery.

“Whether it’s a push or riding mower, trimmer or tractor, the safety features are there for a reason,” she said. “People often try to quickly clear out grass near the blade or rush to get the job done, and that’s when accidents happen.”

Experts have five top safety recommendations that will help protect from head to toe this mowing season:

• Wear eye protection. Debris often kicks up from behind mowers and trimmers – at up to 200 miles per hour, which can damage the eyes. Low hanging tree branches should also be trimmed regularly to prevent eye injuries. Safety goggles are recommended; don’t rely on everyday eyeglasses.

• Shut off equipment. This should be the first thing done when stopping to empty the bagger, before walking away from the machine, when filling the gas tank; and before reaching toward the blade or engine.

• Watch out for kids. It’s best to keep children and pets inside while using machinery. It only takes one second for clothing, toys and hair to get caught in moving parts. Riding lawn mowers are designed for one person. Never let kids under 16 run a rider or children younger than 12 operate a push mower.

• Let the mower cool down before refilling the gas tank. Exhaust from a lawn mower can reach 240ºF, which can cause severe burns to hands and arms, and hot splashes into eyes from the new gas pouring onto the existing hot gasoline.

• Wear closed-toe shoes. It is easy for a spinning blade to sever toes. Also, sandals and flip flops are less stable. A trip, slip or stumble, could cause a person to come into contact with moving or hot parts.

If someone experiences a laceration, control the bleeding with pressure and a towel, and get to an emergency room immediately or call 911. If there is an amputation and any part of the appendage is salvageable, wrap it with a clean cloth or gauze, place it in a bag with ice and bring it along to the emergency room, or give it to the paramedics who respond to the 911 call.