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Lawn Mower Injuries Common

Wear Goggles While Mowing, Keep Kids Away From Mowers, Experts Say
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 20, 2006 -- Emergency departments at U.S. hospitals treated more than 80,000 lawn mower injuries in 2004, and many of those accidents might have been preventable.

A report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine's advance online issue tracks hospital-treated lawn mower injuries in the U.S. from 1996-2004.

During that time, emergency rooms treated nearly 663,400 lawn mower injuries and almost 12,000 people were hospitalized for lawn mower injuries.

Flying debris was a major hazard. Other injuries happened while people were trying to fix lawn mowers or even stumbling over idle lawn mowers. Many injured people were bystanders, including kids.

The researchers who conducted the study were Vanessa Costilla of Rice University and David Bishai, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Mower Safety Tips

In a news release, Bishai offers these tips for safe mowing:

  • Wear goggles, long pants, and close-toed shoes with gripped soles while mowing.
  • Clear the yard of debris before mowing.
  • Keep everyone, especially small children, away from the yard while mowing.
  • Think twice before mowing if you have a history of chest, back, or joint pain.
  • Use care and wear protective gloves while servicing mowers or changing blades.
  • Never service the mower while it's running.
  • Get help, if needed, to lift the mower.
  • Mow only in good weather conditions, avoiding high heat.
  • Don't use riding mowers on steep hills or embankments.
  • Don't carry passengers on riding mowers.
  • Don't tow passengers behind the mower.
  • Don't allow children younger than 16 to operate riding mowers.
  • Store lawn mowers in an area with minimal traffic and not accessible to kids.

Who Got Hurt

Far more men than women were affected. For instance, men were hospitalized more than five times more often than women, the study shows.

People in their 60s had the highest injury rate for push mowers, while those 70 and older had the highest injury rate for riding mowers.

However, kids younger than 15 also had a "substantial" injury rate, Costilla and Bishai write. "It is these injuries that we, and numerous others, believe to be completely preventable if children could be kept away from lawn mowers," the researchers add.

Slightly older children were also among the injured. Teens aged 15-19 had the highest hospitalization rate for mower injuries from 1996-2003, the study shows.

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