Dr. Mitchel Seruya, hand and microvascular surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital
As the weather in Texas continues to be warm, I wanted to remind parents about safety precautions when cutting the lawn around children. Below, I’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about lawnmowers, as well as provided safety tips as a way to help parents and childcare providers make healthy and safe choices for children.
When can my child start mowing the lawn?
It is recommended that a child be 12 years of age or older when operating a push lawnmower and 16 years or older when operating a riding lawnmower.
Is it safe for my child to be in the yard while someone is mowing?
No. It is never safe for your child to be near a lawnmower while it is running. The operator may not see the child. Additionally, children anywhere near the vicinity of the mower run the risk of being injured by toys, rocks or other yard debris that can easily be thrown by the blade.
What about a riding lawnmower? Is it safe for my child to ride with me?
No. It is never safe for a child to ride with you on a riding lawn mower, and children under the age of 16 should not operate them. Having children ride with you could be a distraction, and they could also easily fall off, as the mower is only made for one person.
What are the most common injuries?
The most common injuries are burns to the hands. Children may come up to the mower even though it is not on and accidently place their hands on the hot motor. More common injuries are deep cuts; loss of fingers, hands, toes or feet; broken and dislocated bones; eye injuries and soft tissue damage.
How can I make my yard safe?
Always keep tools away from children, and make sure you write labels on all chemicals. Always inspect the mower before you or your child begins mowing the lawn. Make sure the blade guard, shields and grass catchers are in place. When a child is operating lawn-mowing equipment always supervise him until he is old enough to operate alone. Always wear eye protection, long pants (no loose clothing) and closed-toe shoes.