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Lawn Mowers: Danger In Your Yard

Mowing the lawn is a weekend activity that many homeowners dread.

Not only is mowing time consuming, reports consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen on The Early Show, it can also be downright dangerous.

A new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine reveals that injuries from lawn mowers are increasing nationwide, and those injuries can be very serious.

Every year, Koeppen said Monday, some 80,000 Americans go to the hospital because of accidents involving lawn mowers. Many of the victims are children and the elderly.

Koeppen spoke with Betty Forsythe, whose grandson, Dylan, lost three fingers and one of his feet to a mower accident. The teary-eyed Duncannon, Pa. woman warned, "Children are fast, children are quick. If you're the parents, the grandparents, if you're watching children, just don't allow them to be in the same area where mowing is done."

"We see (injuries from lawnmowers) every summer; I'm talking big injuries that are devastating," Dr. Scott Kozin of the Shriners Hospitals For Children tells Koeppen.

Kozin is a pediatric hand and foot surgeon who's treated dozens of kids injured by lawn mowers. He says mower accidents are the No. 1 cause of foot amputations in children nationwide: "Either the child is riding on the mower with grandpop or dad and subsequently falls off and has a devastating injury, or they're playing in the yard and the child inadvertently is run over."

But, Koeppen points out, the majority of kids injured by lawn mowers are teenagers.

"The adolescents," Kozin observes, "are the ones that are cutting the lawn for their allowance. The lawnmower gets stuck, they do something stupid, they put their foot in, they reach their hand in, and it's amputated."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no one under age 16 should use a riding mower, and no one under age 12 should use a push mower.

"A lawn mower is a machine, and it can be a dangerous machine if not used properly," stresses Barbara Hastings, who is with Troy-Bilt, a leading mower manufacturer. Her company has put warning stickers on every model.

Based on the study results, Koeppen says, experts recommend some steps that promote lawnmower safety:

  • Wear goggles, long pants and close-toed shoes with gripped soles
  • Clear the yard of debris before mowing, so none cay fly around, potentially hitting someone
  • Keep everyone, especially small children, from the yard while mowing
  • People with histories of chest, back or joint pain should reconsider mowing
  • Use care and wear protective gloves when servicing mowers or changing blades
  • Many injuries occur while lifting mowers, so get help if needed
  • Never service the mower while it's running
  • Mow only in good weather; avoid mowing in high heat
  • Don't use riding mowers on steep hills or embankments
  • Don't carry passengers on riding mowers, or tow passengers behind the mower
  • Store mowers in areas with minimal traffic and that aren't accessible to children.
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