A week ago my crew and I were servicing a home in a local subdivision. I looked across the street into my client’s neighbor’s yard and noticed a grandmother riding a toddler around on a home lawn tractor. She was a beautiful lady who had aged gracefully and had a bit of silver in her hair. The lawn tractor, a John Deere, was bright green with some yellow on it. Both the grandmother and this blonde-haired toddler looked like they were having a blast riding the tractor around the yard.
I just couldn’t help myself. I walked towards their property, across the street, and approached them while they were on the mower.
I blurted out, “Mam, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, or rude in any way, but what you’re doing right now with that baby is not safe.”
As the words came out of my mouth, I felt like I had just ruined a special moment for the lady and her grandson. It seemed she felt the same way.
But as I continued to talk, my motives became clearer. I was truly concerned, and I did not want to see the child fall off the mower and suffer a lifelong injury.
My wife is a wound care nurse for a local hospital. This year alone (2016) there have been not one, not two, but three cases where she has taken care of children who have been maimed or dismembered by a lawn mower. It happens multiples times in our area every year.
With this in mind, let’s talk about the three most common ways kids are injured by lawn mowers and what we can do to prevent these avoidable tragedies.
- Joy Riding – Letting a child sit on a mower, ESPECIALLY when the blades are engaged, is extremely dangerous. You may think you have control of the child, but so does every other parent or grandparent who has had a child fall off their lap and underneath the blades of a mower.
- Prevention: There is absolutely no safe way to ride a child on a lawn mower. DO NOT DO IT.
- Projectiles – A small screw, pebble, or piece of cracked cement can shoot out the side of a mower with the speed of a bullet.. and it can do just as much damage.
- Prevention: ALWAYS keep the discharge guard in place on the mower, or use a mulch kit which completely closes off the discharge chute. Walk the yard before mowing, scanning for any loose objects that could become a projectile if hit by the mower blades.
- Reverse –The greatest likelihood of an accident happens when you are unable to see where you are going.
- Prevention: ALWAYS look behind the tractor BEFORE placing it in reverse. Back up slowly and in a controlled manner. Back up only for as long as it takes to get the mower in a position to where it can be driven forward.
In closing, please remember that even residential grade lawn mowers are powerful machines capable of inflicting severe injury or death.
By using common sense and basic safety practices, injury of a child is completely avoidable.