Lawn Mower Injuries Crop Up in Spring...Save Those Finger and Toes

Do you see green everywhere these days?  I do! The warm weather and significant rain has finally convinced the grass to suddenly sprout.  While June is typically the peak time for lawn mowing injuries, we’ve seen a sudden increase starting in mid-May.  Fingers and toes and lawn mower blades – oh my!  Guard your fingers, toes and limbs!

I remember riding on my Grandpa’s lap when he was mowing the lawn - so many of us have those summer memories. Hearing the lawn mower start up and running outside to catch him – the smell of freshly cut grass wafting through the air. It’s ironic that something that seemed like harmless fun was actually quite dangerous. 

“Unfortunately people develop a false sense of security when engaged in this traditional rite of summer," cautioned Ray Georgen, MD, director of Trauma at Theda Clark Medical Center. "Lawn mowers represent a serious threat to one’s health if not used safely. Every year our Trauma Center deals with lawn mower related injuries that are often times devastating and irreparable. Loss of limb or life can be a reality when sustaining these types of injuries."

Dr. Georgen says besides the obvious cutting type of injuries, the projectile nature from the discharge of a lawn mower can be similar to shrapnel injuries seen in the military.  "By their very nature, lawn mower wounds are dirty and represent a significant chance for severe infection.”

Nationally 80,000 to 90,000 people each year go to the ER as a result of lawn mower injuries.  And did you know that even with the use of built-in safety features on lawn mowers, the number of injuries stays fairly steady from year to year?

No joy riding. Keep your kids alive and in one piece. Children should never be passengers on a mower. This bears repeating:  Children should never be passengers on a mower - ever. Know if any children are home and know where they are at all times. If a child runs toward you turn off the mower immediately. A child who is anxious to get your attention is often a running child who can slip, trip or fall into the path of a push or riding mower, especially if the grass is wet. 

Don’t go back. No reverse mowing if avoidable - children and pets are in great danger in this blind spot. If you must back up, first disengage the blade, then reverse the mower while looking backwards then entire time/before during and after.

Staining your clothes or keeping your fingers and toes? When cleaning the compacted grass from the mower deck, first disconnect the spark plug or make sure an electric mower is unplugged.

You don’t want to catch this fastball - Rocks and sticks can be thrown from a power mower at speeds of 100-200 mph toward an unsuspecting bystander.

Play with a saw – never! The lawnmower is a routine, but dangerous piece of equipment and it deserves respect. A lawn mower causes injuries typically more severe than any other power tool. You wouldn’t let your child play with a power saw, would you? 

Best Advice: Children under 6 stay inside when you are mowing · Under age 12 should not be allowed to use walk-behind mowers · Under age 16 should not be allowed to use riding mowers · When mowing, wear protective clothing, close-toed shoes, protective goggles and don’t forget the hearing protection  · Do not drink alcoholic beverages before operating a mower · If buying a mower, purchase one with a no-reverse safety feature · If an injury occurs, call 911 immediately and apply pressure to any injuries.

Remember it is up to you to prevent lawn mower injuries. Take a few extra minutes and save your fingers and toes.

Visit these links for addition mower safety information:

AAP Lawn Mower Safety

AAOS Lawn Mower Safety

Wishing you a safe summer from the staff at the Trauma Center at Theda Clark Hospital.

By Kathi Hegranes, Injury Prevention Coordinator, Trauma Center at Theda Clark Medical Center