A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Safety First: When mowing the lawn, keeping children indoors is the best possible safety precaution

By Dr. Lesley Wong
Special to KyForward

Spring is here which means children will begin playing outside more often. With the change in the weather, it also means time to add another chore to the list: mowing the lawn.

Depending on where you live, you may mow your lawn 30 times or more this year. However, every time you start your mower, you are dealing with a dangerous, potentially deadly piece of equipment.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) statistics, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors each year and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation. In addition, 75 people are killed and 20,000 injured by mowers with one in five deaths involving a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.

Injuries are caused most often when children run behind a mower; slip under the mower while riding as a passenger; collide with mower blades when machines were steered in reverse; or are struck by a mower that rolled over due to an uneven and/or wet surface. In many cases, adults did not realize children were near the mower when injuries occurred.

This spring, the Amputee Coalition and Limbs Matter, a group of parents who have children who have undergone amputations due to lawn mower accidents, began a campaign to raise awareness of limb loss prevention. The group urges parents to keep children indoors when mowing the lawn and to practice safety measures when operating lawn mowers.

One split second can change a child and family’s life forever, making it important to practice safety measures when mowing the lawn. Children should not ride as passengers on a lawn mower and to provide the safest conditions, should not even be outside while mowing is being done.

Besides children, adults and teenagers who mow, should also take safety precautions to prevent injuries.

Injury prevention tips include:

Wearing sturdy, closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety goggles or glasses with side shields and hearing protection.

Watch for objects that could be picked up and thrown by the mower blades. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps.

If the mower strikes an object, you should stop, turn the mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until repaired.

Use extra caution when mowing a slope.

When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades.

With a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over.

Remember to use your lawnmower safely and keep children indoors while mowing. To watch the PSA produced by the Amputee Coalition and Limbs Matter, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1xdp6hMubY.


Dr. Lesley Wong is an associate professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and a plastic surgeon at UK HealthCare.

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