May 4, 2016

Devastating, preventable injuries caused by lawn mowers annually; Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt offers these safety tips


Every year, injuries from lawn mowers are among the most tragic seen at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. These injuries are devastating to patients and their families and are easily preventable.

Children’s Hospital doctors treat numerous children each year who have been seriously injured by a lawn mower-related accident, according to Steven Lovejoy, M.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation. Lovejoy said injuries include lacerations to lower extremities, amputation of fingers and even death.

“Lawn mowers are powerful vehicles that can cause life-altering injuries, so children should always remain inside the house and away from lawn mowers while in use,” Lovejoy said. “Parents and caregivers should always be aware of where their children are when operating lawn mowers. Further, children should never be allowed to ride on a lawn mower, as they can easily fall and get caught beneath.”

There are several common types of lawn mower injuries: bystanders who fall, slide or trip into the path of a mower; older children who are operating the lawn mower and get their fingers or toes cut off by the blades; those who have roll-over injuries; and passengers of any age who slip or fall from a riding mower into the path of the blades.

Additionally, a mower can throw an object up to 2,100 feet at 200 mph and cause severe injuries or even death.

Children’s Hospital offers the following tips to help reduce the risk of a lawn mower injury to people of all ages:

  • Read the lawn mower operator’s manual.
  • Children should not ride on lawn mowers as passengers.  They can fall and be caught under the mower.
  • Clear the mowing area of objects including twigs, stones and toys that can be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades.
  • Wear close-toed shoes with slip-proof soles while mowing.
  • Consider hearing protection for louder mowers.
  • Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is let go.
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you do.
  • Make sure that all children are indoors or at a safe distance away from the area that you are mowing before you turn on the mower.
  • If your child is going to operate the lawn mower, make sure he or she is old enough to handle the responsibilities that are associated with using one. Children younger than 16 should not be allowed to operate riding mowers and those younger than 12 should not be allowed to use push mowers.
  • Before you allow your child to mow the lawn alone, spend time showing him or her how to do the job safely. Supervise your child’s work until you are sure that he or she can manage the task alone.
  • Store the fuel for the mower out of reach of children. Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or a shed. Mowers should be refueled with the motor turned off and cool. Never let children refuel the engine.