Lawnmower Safety: What You Need to Know

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Many of us have probably done things like mow the lawn in sandals and shorts, let the kids play around us while we mow, and perhaps have even let kids ride on a riding lawnmower with us. The problem is that there are some very real dangers, no matter how careful we try to be. Nearly 10,000 children in the U.S. are injured in lawnmower accidents each year. And most children injured by riding lawnmowers are younger than 6, typically when a parent or relative is driving the mower. So what can you do to help kids your kids safe?

  • Get to know your machine – read the owner’s manual and ensure you know how to use your lawn mower properly
  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of lawnmowers, and remind them to never approach one while it is running
  • Always know where your children are before you start your mower and while the mower is running
  • Don’t let kids ride in your lap when using a riding mower. Falling off is a very real danger, no matter how careful you think you are
  • Use protective eye wear and shoes, and don’t let kids play close to where you’re mowing. Push mowers can throw out wood chips, rocks and other objects that can injure those nearby.
  • For riding mowers, always look before you back up and stop the blades when you do
  • Remind them the engine area is hot to the touch and can burn when touched

For those with older kids, you might be wondering when it’s safe to let them mow on their own. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to wait until kids are at least 12 to use a push mower and 16 for a riding mower.

And, when you do let them use the machines, make sure you’ve gone over all of the safety features and important information like how to mow when there is an incline, and the importance of clearing loose objects like sticks and stones from the path.

You can find more tips to help keep your kids safe whether they’re babies or teens at:

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About Nicole Vesley, Safe Kids Coalition Coordinator
Nicole Vesley is the Safe Kids Madison Area Coordinator
View all posts by Nicole Vesley, Safe Kids Coalition Coordinator

Comments

  1. connie behrend says:

    My Grandpa was born in 1900 and grew up around reel mowers, somehow he had 4 fingers severed in a power mower accident before I ever knew him. We talked alot about safety w/ our children. especially since they were growing up on a dairy farm. (motor off before checking under it, mow away from people and things… When my Grandpa was in his 80s he had a blood clot in his good arm and lost it.This only left him with a thumb and was in a nursing home after that.Sad.

  2. Cindy says:

    I still have toddlers so we do talk about safety, but can’t yet trust they’ve really understood it. I just bring them inside when my husband mows. They don’t really like the loud noise anyway.

  3. Karen Block says:

    I think safety first with anything that has an engine and moves for young and old alike is a very good message reminder to have on this site. This same message can apply in some manner to the riding cars and toys that many families now let their very young children ride on. Thanks!

  4. Melissa Y. says:

    We minimize the risk by mowing our lawn as infrequently as possible…haha!

  5. Solange says:

    Our 10 year old son really wants to mow. Thanks for the article.

  6. Roxi says:

    We talk with our young children (under5) about how the lawn mower is not safe (we have a walk one) My husband and I both try to keep our children at a reasonable distance from us when we are mowing so things don’t shoot up at them and we try to only mow when we are both home so one can look after the kids.

  7. Crystal Sperry says:

    My ex husband let my 8 yr olds try mowing. My girls are very light weight and were not prepared for the force of a mower. No injuries but needless to say I was not pleased.

  8. R. says:

    I can not thank you enough for you timing on this topic. My husband and son feel like he is old enough to use the push mower. I now have more to back up my belief that he is too young!!! Thanks for the helpful information!!!!

  9. Wendy Chacon says:

    During residency, we had two cases in which the child was riding with the parent on a riding lawnmower: one child fell off one and the mower ran over his feet, another the child ran toward the mower and was hit. When an adult is outside mowing our lawn, I keep my kids inside EVERY SINGLE TIME! It’s too dangerous to have little ones outside when large machines are being used.

  10. Kathy says:

    My son is 9 and so we will wait until he is 12 before he starts mowing with the push mower.

  11. Jen says:

    Great tips. This is why I avoid lawn work :)

  12. JaneRae says:

    With a riding mower that is weight activated, we have found it much easier to discuss lawn mower safety. Our son it 12, but does not weigh enough to keep the mower running. So we have talked about why the manufacturer feels you need to be a bit bigger, stronger, and smarter. He’s passed the strength and smarts test with Mom and Dad. Getting bigger means eat your veggies! Love it!

  13. Michelle says:

    My goodness, that bubble mower is still the coolest!

  14. Karmin says:

    Thanks this is helpful guidance for when children can start mowing. I think there are many other tasks that children can do that are safe to teach them responsibility.

  15. Diane says:

    I was fortunate to have a screen porch and would always have my young girls play in the enclosed porch while moving in that area, which of course was the large backyard. This was such a great thing to have and kept them safe and out of harm.

  16. Melissa says:

    I make my two year old go in the house and watch his dad from the 2nd story window. He thinks it’s fun and I’m happy he’s safe!

  17. jay says:

    when the handle broke on our push mower lately, we had a great talk with the kids about safey as we had to hunt for the screws so noone would get hurt.

  18. Stephanie says:

    Mine isn’t old enough yet to use the lawnmower,but I definately will have the talk. I can remember mowing the lawn on the john deere riding lawn mower when I was 9 years old. My parents lawn was all hills and the lawn mower slipped out of gear one time and I went backwards screaming all the way down the hill. I must have been really mature for my age because I can’t see my 8 year old even mowing the lawn when he’s 9. lol

  19. molly says:

    My kids will not be getting on a lawn mower anytime soon. But when they do get older we will be talking saftey to them. When I was 8 or 9 I was mowing the lawn that my brother was suppose to be mowing and I ran into a tree not once but twice. I was fine but the mower sustained some injuries :O) (the mower was 2 weeks old if that) So before my kids do that I will make sure they are old enough and know about safety

  20. Stephanie F. says:

    My kiddos watch from the front stoop when we’re cutting the grass (or the deck when we’re out back). It makes me feel better to know exactly where they are and they have clear expectations on where they need to stay to be safe. Thanks for all the tips!

  21. Nicole says:

    I always keep the kids inside when mowing. We let them know they can play outside as soon as it is done and kind of hype up the fact that they will get to go outside soon.

  22. Kristen says:

    I always kept my kids indoors when we were mowing the lawn. Now that my daughter is 13 she has begun to mow my parents yard with their push mower. We made sure to go over safety procedures and that she mows in appropriate footwear. Our neighbor lost his toes in a mowing accident.

  23. Trisha Forman says:

    Thank you for the tips. I live in a rental unit and my landlord takes care of the lawn maintenance, but that won’t be forever :-)

  24. sally says:

    I always make sure my kids are in the house while my husband mows. Not worth any close calls.

  25. Elizabeth Goff says:

    When the mower goes on, the 3 kids go inside. I know too many people (even as adults!) with lawnmower injuries. Better safe than sorry…when they get older we will teach them how to be safe around a lawnmower.

  26. Jenny says:

    We watch the lawn mowing from inside the house to keep the little ones safe!