Louisville, Ky. – A staggering 247,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries last year in the United States, more than 18,000 of them children under age 19, according to the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, and lawn mower-related injuries have increased 7 percent since 2008. As the summer heats up and people are out mowing their lawns often, it’s important to be aware of the serious risks that lawn mowers pose, said University of Louisville plastic surgeon Bradon Wilhelmi, MD.
“The most common body part to be injured by a lawn mower is the foot,” Wilhelmi said. “Hand, ear and scalp injuries can occur as well, and long hair can get caught in revolving lawn mower blades and result in facial and cervical spine injuries.”
He said the best treatment for lawn mower injuries is prevention.
“Children should be discouraged from ever being allowed to ride on lawn mowers, young children should never be allowed to use the lawn mower and people should make every effort to avoid having children present in the area where a lawn is being mowed,” he said. “It is easy to lose sight of a child and it just takes an instant for a terrible tragedy to occur.”
Adults also should be very careful attempting to fix lawn mowers, Wilhelmi said.
“When grass or weeds get caught, the lawn mower blades can recoil, injuring the hands of someone attempting to remove the debris,” he said.
As a plastic surgeon, Wilhelmi has seen many injuries related to lawn mower accidents.
“I’ve seen injuries that require extensive and lengthy wound care treatments, I’ve seen toes amputated or nearly amputated, and I’ve seen numerous facial lacerations and deforming facial injuries,” he said.
Following are some further tips from Wilhelmi and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery:
- Children should never be passengers on ride-on mowers.
- Always wear sturdy shoes while mowing — not sandals.
- Young children should be at a safe distance from the area you are mowing.
- Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
- Always wear eye and hearing protection.
- Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released.
- Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary — carefully look for others behind you when you do.