Lawn Mower Safety: Why Kids Should Stay Inside When You Cut the Grass

One of the first signs that weather is turning warmer is the sight of lawn mowers and the smell of freshly cut grass.

While there are plenty of fun things to do and explore and we want kids to be outside learning and growing, there is one time we recommend you keep them inside: when you are mowing the lawn. Every day emergency departments around the country treat 13 children for lawn mower-related injuries.

For younger children, these injuries often happen when they try to touch a lawn mower or when they are in the yard while someone is mowing. Kids are curious and like to learn. Unfortunately, when they touch a hot lawn mower that has not yet cooled down, they can get serious burns as their skin is much thinner than an adult’s.

Kids also get hurt when rocks, sticks or other items in the yard shoot out of the lawn mower. Because of their size, kids often get hit in the head, face or eye. This can happen even if they are standing on the edge of the lawn watching or playing nearby, not watching at all.

Riding mowers bring another set of risks. With most riding mowers, it is easy to put the mower in reverse without looking around. Unfortunately, every year, children are backed over because the person mowing didn’t know they were there and couldn’t hear them over the noise of the mower. Sometimes children are run over when they slip off while riding on a mower with an adult. Injuries from both of these scenarios happen in the blink of an eye and are more common than people think.

To keep your family safer around lawn mowers, there are a couple of steps you can take.

  • Keep kids inside. Whenever you mow the lawn, either with a push mower or a riding mower, find an inside activity for the kids. Teach children that people mowing the lawn may not be able to hear them or see them so they should stay inside until the lawn mower is turned off and put away. If they are walking outside and see someone mowing the lawn, they should wait to pass by when the person mowing is far away from the sidewalk.
  • Teach kids that lawn mowers aren’t toys. Never let a child play on or near a mower, even when it is not in use. Also remember that riding mowers are only designed for one person, the operator, to be on while in use.
  • Learn how to keep the person mowing the lawn safe. Teens and adults who are mowing the lawn can get lawn mower-related injuries as well. Learn what you can do to keep yourself safe. We recommend waiting until children are at least 12 years old before they use a push mower and 16 before operating a ride-on mower. For more helpful hints, click here.

Click here to learn more about the Make Safe Happen app, where you can get room-by-room safety tips, set reminders and more.

Tracy Mehan, MA
Tracy Mehan is the manager of translational research for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In this role, she takes injury prevention research out of the journals and into the community. As the mother of a very active 12-year-old boy and an aunt to 21 nieces and nephews, she frequently gets to see firsthand the need for various injury prevention measures. When she isn’t out trying to save the world, you can find her on the basketball court with her son, with her nose in her kindle, or exploring websites on pirate trivia.

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