Spring is here, the sky is blue, the grass is green,
and it's time to give that lawn a trim. But beware: Lawn
mower injuries are a seasonal threat to children and the
leading cause of amputations in adolescents, say
specialists from the Johns Hopkins
Children's Center, Maryland's designated pediatric
trauma center, where the most severe injuries are
"The No. 1 advice to parents is: Treat the lawn mower
as hazardous equipment not a toy," said Carol Gentry, nurse
manager of the pediatric operating room. "You don't let a
child play with an electric saw, and that's exactly what a
lawn mower is."
Each year, research shows, lawn mower accidents send
9,400 children in this county to the hospital, causing
injuries more severe than any other tool or device. The
most common injuries are lacerations, fractures and
amputations of the fingers, hands, toes, feet and legs.
Most injuries occur when an operator is unaware that a
child is behind a mower and shifts into reverse, backing
over the child.
Of the lawn mower accidents seen among patients at the
Children's Center between 2000 and 2005, 95 percent were
amputations that required reattachment or reconstructive
"Every year, we see several children so badly injured
by lawn mowers that they need amputation or extensive
reconstructive surgery," said Rick Redett, director of
reconstructive and plastic surgery at the Children's
Center. "Many more children end up in local emergency
departments with a variety of mower-related injuries."
Typically, Redett says, pediatricians see the first
such injuries in late April, but this year, the first case
came in March. He and his colleagues throughout the state
and nation are alerting parents and other child caregivers
to the dangers and providing tips for preventing such
injuries. The tips:
Keep children under 6 years old
indoors while a power mower is in operation.
Let no child under 12 use a
Keep children under 16 off ride-on
mowers, even if with a parent.
If you are mowing and see a child
running toward you, turn off the mower immediately.
Children can fall and slip into the blade, especially if
the grass is wet.
Wear protective goggles and
close-toed shoes when operating a mower or when near
Before mowing, clean the lawn of
debris such as sticks and stones, which may get caught in
the blades and be propelled out.
If injury occurs, call 911 right
away and apply pressure to the wound to stop bleeding while
you await an ambulance.
Buy mowers with a no-reverse
safety feature that requires the operator to turn around
(and see behind him) in order to shift into reverse.