Cut Grass, Not Limbs

Jun 04, 2014, 10:41 ET from American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As more Americans venture outdoors this summer to do yard work, the nation's emergency physicians urge caution and common sense when using lawnmowers or other powerful lawn tools.

"Unfortunately, we see often see serious injuries to hands, fingers, legs and feet this time of year," said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "The most aggravating thing is that many, if not most of these injuries, are easily preventable."  

More than 250,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Children under the age of 19 account for nearly 17,000 of these injuries.  The Amputee Coalition reports that lawn mower accidents are the leading cause of major amputations for children under the age of 10.  The first piece of advice is simple:  Keep young children away from lawnmowers.  In a recent case, an emergency physician treated a 5 year old child who "slipped, tripped and fell while his father was mowing the lawn and lost the better part of three fingers." 

Lawn Mower Safety

  • Wear shoes, not sandals.  Keep all exposed skin away from the moving blade.
  • Pick up anything that could cause injury it's tossed, like stones, toys, sticks, etc.
  • As mentioned above, but worth repeating — keep young kids under the age of 12 away from lawnmowers.  Never allow them to play with them, even if they are powered off and never allow them to ride with you.
  • Never make adjustments to a lawn mower blade while it is running.
  • Make sure the mower is completely powered down before removing grass catcher or crossing a gravel road.
  • Wear protective eye and hearing protection.
  • Properly maintain a lawnmower regularly making sure it is in good, safe working condition.
  • Use a stick or broom handle to remove debris in a lawnmower, not your hands or feet.  Hands or feet should never touch the blade under any circumstances.
  • Never remove safety devices, guards or switches.
  • Never leave a lawnmower unattended while running.
  • Don't drink alcohol before operating a lawn mower.

"People need to realize that they are inches from a metal blade moving at high velocity," said Dr. Rosenau.  "Like anything potentially dangerous, we have to respect that risk and do everything possible to minimize it." 

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.

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SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)