Summer is the prime season for lawn mowing, but don't let safety slip from your mind when completing this routine chore. According to a study released by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2006, lawn mowing injuries send approximately 80,000 Americans to the hospital every year, accounting for about 2 out of every 1,000 injury-related emergency room visits. Even worse, the study indicated this trend has been increasing from 1996 to 2004.
The majority of injuries happen to children under 15 and adults over the age of 60. The most common injuries involve debris (rocks, sticks, etc.) shooting out from under the mower and striking the eyes or body parts. Foot fractures and non-specific pain (back strain, joint or chest pain, dehydration, etc.) are also common occurrences.
To stay safe when mowing the lawn, follow some of these simple precautions, recommended by senior study author David Bishai, MD, PhD, MPH, and the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Wear goggles, long pants and close-toed shoes with gripped soles
- Clear the yard of debris before mowing
- Keep everyone, especially small children, from the yard while mowing
- People with histories of chest, back or joint pain should reconsider mowing
- Use care and wear protective gloves when servicing mower or changing blades
- Many injuries occur while lifting mower—get help if needed
- Never service the mower while it is running
- Mow only in good weather conditions—avoid mowing in high heat
- Do not use riding mowers on steep hills or embankments
- Do not carry passengers on riding mowers or tow passengers behind the mower
- Do not allow children under the age of 16 to operate a riding mower, and do not allow children under the age of 12 to operate a walk-behind mower
- Store lawn mowers in area with minimal traffic and not accessible to children
“These are machines with sharp blades spinning at 160 miles per hour just inches away from our feet and hands. Everyone needs to respect the dangers and use common sense,” said Bishai.
To see the full study, go to:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16713787.
Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.