Human beings tend to perceive familiar things as safe and unfamiliar things as dangerous. This is one reason why some people are uncomfortable with natural yards. It also means that people who have always maintained a lawn may underestimate the hazards associated with lawnmowers.
About 74,000 Americans a year end up in the emergency room after injuring themselves with a lawnmower. About 1,500 of those are admitted to the hospital. Each year, approximately 60 Americans injured by lawnmowers don’t make it to the emergency room because they are killed on the spot; 20% of those are children.
The most common type of lawnmower-related injury is people (often bystanders) being struck by objects launched by the mower’s blades. The most severe – short of death – is accidental amputation of hands and feet. Not all injures are dramatic, though: the second-most common cause is pain and strain related to normal operation of yard equipment, while some hospital admissions result from a person tripping over a lawnmower while it is stored in the garage.
If you choose to mow your lawn, please do so safely! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following precautions:
- Wear closed-toed shoes, close-fitting clothing, safety goggles, and hearing protection.
- Do not pull the mower backwards. When mowing on a slope, go across, not up and down. (Unless you are using a riding mower, in which case you should do the opposite.)
- Avoid running over obstacles such as toys, sticks, tree roots, and curbs. Fixed objects may damage the mower; loose objects can be launched at up to 200 miles per hour.
- Do not allow children or pets to play near where you are mowing.
- Do not mow wet grass. In wet conditions, it is easier to slip and fall under the mower.
- When turning off the mower to cross a grassless area, reach underneath, or walk away, wait for the blades to stop completely.