06:25 AM

Lawn mower injuries on the rise: Share these safety tips

Just two days into June, Children's Mercy has already treated seven lawn mower-related injuries, matching the total number of cases for the entire year of 2014.

"The Orthopaedics section has been seeing an alarming number of lawn-mower injuries, particularly in very young children," said Dale Jarka, MD, Orthopaedic Surgery. "I've treated three in the past four weeks, and I know of at least two others. And the tragedy is that these injuries are 100 percent preventable."

Consciousness of lawn mower safety is paramount, especially in spring. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use, so help promote awareness of safety. Children lose feet, legs, hands and suffer a variety of other injuries in power-mower accidents. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that more than 17,000 children and teens are treated for such injuries each year. 

"Sometimes common sense isn't so common," Dr. Jarka said. "Many of the accidents involving children happen when they fall off a riding mower while sitting on grandpa's lap, for example. It's considered fun, but the consequences can be tragic."

Children don't have to be on a mower to be endangered. Dr. Jarka once had a case where a child was on a porch, squirting his grandmother with a water pistol. The child was so delighted that he took off intending to also squirt his grandfather who was mowing, while the grandmother took off her glasses to wipe off the water. The child slipped, fell under the mower, and lost a foot. "It happened that quickly," Dr. Jarka said.

Other common mower accidents occur when an operator backs up and collides with a child who is too close, or a mower hits a stone, stick or other object, turning it into a projectile.

Despite warnings as warm weather approaches every year, bad images can appear from unexpected sources. For example, a national retail store once published an advertisement showing a man pushing a power mower, with a boy following closely behind with a toy mower.

The best practice is to keep children inside when mowing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has the following additional safety and prevention tips:


  • Never allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on lawn mowers or garden tractors - even with the blade disengaged. It portrays the wrong message that these are fun toys. 
  • Make sure that children are indoors or at a safe distance well away from the area that you plan to mow. 
  • Clear the mowing area of any objects such as twigs, stones, and toys, that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades.
  • Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
  • Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area where you are working. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use. 


 Dr. Jarka encourages all CM employees to spread the word about mower safety…and don't be shy about it.

"I've even stopped my car before when I was driving by a house where a child was riding as a passenger on a mower to warn the person driving the mower," she said, admitting that her message hasn't always been received warmly…but the potential danger to a child is worth the risk of a less-than friendly reaction.

Visit the AAP Healthy Children.org link.