Lawn mowers are sending nearly 13 children to the hospital every day

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Lawn mowers are sending nearly 13 children to the hospital every day

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A 4-year-old sits on a riding mower with his father in Kellerton, Iowa.

Every year, thousands of children are sent to hospital emergency rooms due to lawn mower-related injuries.

Researchers obtained 1990-2014 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which provides information on consumer product-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments across the country and found an average of 13 children are treated in emergency rooms every day and approximately 4,800 children are treated every year due to lawn mower-related injuries.

Thirty-nine percent of the injuries involved cuts and 15 percent, burns. The hand/finger area was the most commonly injured body region, followed by the legs, feet and toes.

Records showed more than 8 percent of the children had injures serious enough to be admitted. Those who were either bystanders or passengers were nearly four times as likely than lawn mower operators to be admitted.

While lawn mower-related injuries have declined over the years, the number is still substantial, researchers said. Approximately 212,258 children received relevant emergency treatment from 1990 through 2014.

“Improvements in lawn mower design during the last few decades are likely an important contributing factor in the decrease in injuries,” Gary Smith, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said in a statement. “We would like to see manufacturers continue to improve design and include additional needed safety features on all mowers.”

In an online statement, Nationwide Children’s Hospital offered five expert tips to prevent lawn mower-related injuries.

  • Teach and supervise teens. Children should be at least 12 years old to operate a push mower and at least 16 years old before using a ride-on mower. An adult should supervise teens before they are allowed to operate a lawn mower on their own.
  • Kid-free zone. Children should never be passengers on ride-on mowers and children younger than 6 years of age should be kept indoors during mowing. Never let children play on or near a lawn mower, even when it is not in use.
  • Before you mow. Pick up any stones or other objects in the grass. Objects thrown by a lawn mower can cause severe eye and other injuries. Put on protective eyewear and make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes. 
  • While you mow. When using a walk-behind lawn mower, use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. Always mow going forward. If you absolutely have to mow in reverse, always look behind you before you start backing up.
  • Turn it off. Wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel roads. 
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