By Allison Elliott and Dr. Steven Lawrence
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 7, 2010) −Warm weather brings
with it the sounds of lawnmowers buzzing across lawns, and the scent of
freshly cut grass. Mowing is such a common chore, we often approach it
casually; unfortunately careless lawnmower operation can lead to
As a physician, I treat the results of many lawnmower accidents. The
wounds we see in our clinic range from simple cuts and burns, to
traumatic amputations and life-threatening injuries.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
(AAOS), more than 10 million lawnmowers are in operation in the U.S.,
and nearly 210,000 lawnmower-related injuries occur annually. The foot
and ankle are the body parts most vulnerable to lawnmower-related
injury, meaning traumatic lawnmower injuries often temporarily or
permanently impact an individual’s ability to walk and perform basic
Patients often have devastating, life-long physical and emotional
consequences as a result of these common injuries. All too often, the
victims are children. As doctors, we know how to treat complex foot and
ankle injuries – but we would rather see people avoid lawnmower
accidents in the first place. To help, here are a few simple safety
recommendations from AAOS:
* Children younger than 12 should not operate push-style lawnmowers. Nobody younger than 16 should operate a riding mower.
* Never let a second person ride or jump on a mower while it is running.
* Ensure that your push mower stops the blade when the control handle
is released. Riding mowers should stop when the rider leaves the seat.
* Always wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Do not mow in sandals or with bare feet.
* Wear long pants to protect legs from projectiles.
* Before mowing, scan the lawn to remove toys, hoses, tools and large rocks – they could become projectiles.
* Keep children out of the area being mowed.
* Don’t mow wet grass – you could slip, finding your feet in the path of the blades.
* Use extra caution on banks and slopes.
* If possible, never pull a mower backwards.
* Stay alert to others entering the mowing area.
* Do not operate a lawnmower under the influence of alcohol.
* Use eyewear and ear protection to avoid injuries to these body parts.
* Never refuel a mower when the engine is hot, to prevent burns.
For more lawnmower safety tips, visit the AAOS website. To learn more about UK physicians and our expertise in foot and ankle injuries, visit UK HealthCare Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
Most importantly, practice safe mowing this spring.
Dr. Steven Lawrence is a foot and ankle surgeon for UK HealthCare
Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. A version of this article appeared
in the Lexington Herald-Leader on March 28, 2010.