May 24, 2011
Spring means more yard work for many, as families start planting their gardens and tending to their lawn. But each year during this season trauma specialists at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center see an increase in the number of children injured by lawn mowers.
“This is an extremely dangerous piece of equipment,” says Arabella Leet, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Childrens Center. “Both the mower operator and those standing nearby are in danger of getting seriously hurt, and already this year we’re seeing severe injuries of young bystanders.”
Each year, approximately 68,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for lawn mower-related injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. More than 9,000 of them are children under age 18.
“The overwhelming majority of these injuries result in amputations that require reattachment or reconstructive surgery,” says Rick Redett, M.D., director of reconstructive and plastic surgery at Hopkins Children’s. “It can be a life-long physical trauma for the child and an emotional ordeal for the guilt-ridden adult.”
Leet, Redett and their colleagues at Hopkins Children’s want to remind Maryland families that these
injuries are preventable with a few simple safety measures:
- Keep all children indoors while a power mower is in operation
- Designate an adult to make sure the children stay indoors
- Do not allow children under 16 to use ride-on mowers
- Do not allow children under 12 to walk behind mowers
- Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers
- Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as twigs and stones, by cleaning the lawn before mowing begins
- Use a collection bag for grass clippings or a plate that covers the opening where cut grass is released
- Wear protective goggles and close-toed shoes when operating a mower or when near one
- Wear hearing and eye protection when using a mower
- Turn off the mower immediately if you see a child running toward you. Children can fall and slip into the blade, especially if the grass is wet
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse
- Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas
- Make sure that blade settings (to set the wheel height or dislodge debris) are done by an
adult, with the mower off and the spark plug removed or disconnected
Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with nearly 95,000 patient visits and some 9,000 admissions each year. Hopkins Children’s is consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation. Hopkins Children’s is Maryland's largest children’s hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. For more information, visit www.hopkinschildrens.org.