April showers bring May flowers, green grass and the potential for lawn mower accidents.
More than 250,000 people in the United States were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010, a 3 percent increase from the previous year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers some safety tips for lawn mowers, whether the riding, power or push style:
- Keep your lawn mower in good working order and have it serviced before you use it for the first time each season. Make sure the motor is off before you inspect or repair a lawn mower, and use a stick or broom handle, not your hands or feet, to remove debris.
- Always read the instruction manual, and never remove safety devices, shields or guards on switches. Add fuel before starting the engine, not when it is running or hot. Never leave a running lawn mower unattended. Avoid touching the engine cowling (covering), which can became extremely hot and burn unprotected flesh.
- Wear sturdy shoes, long pants, protective gloves and goggles when mowing. Never drink alcohol before using a mower. Check for and remove stones, toys and other objects from the lawn before mowing. Mow across slopes when using a push mower, and mow up and down slopes when using a riding mower.
- Teach children to stay away from running lawn mowers and never let them play in or near an area being mowed. Never let children ride on a mower. Children should be at least age 12 before using a push mower and 16 before using a riding mower.
West Virginia University has more on lawn mower safety.