Learning to mow the family lawn is a rite of passage for many young girls and boys in this country. It signals being of an age where the child is able to take on more responsibility around the house, and often many kids use that skill to earn spending money by mowing lawns around the neighborhood.
While it may be a rite of passage for many, it's also becoming increasingly dangerous, sending 13 children to the emergency room everyday with injuries caused by lawn mowers.
Science Daily reports that while the number of incidents of children injured by lawn mowers has decreased over the years, it's still a cause for concern.
The study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine shows that up to 4800 children a year are visiting emergency rooms due to lawn mower related injuries. The most frequent injuries were cuts and burns, mostly to the hands and fingers but injuries to the leg, feet and toes were also recorded.
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The study also said that more than 8% of children treated had serious enough injuries that they needed to be admitted to the hospital. The study also noted that those in the vicinity of the lawn mower, but not operating it, were more than 4 times more likely to be injured.
In a study conducted just last year, Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that a child is admitted to the ER every hour for lawn-mower related accidents.
In 2004 Brett Bainter decided to mow the family lawn while his 4 year old son Jake rode his bike in the driveway. Bainter told PEOPLE that the family babysitter was still there so he took the opportunity to cut the grass. After reaching the dead end of his house, Brett backed up his lawnmower without realizing his son had followed him, backing over young Jake.
“That haunts me still. I looked down and his upper torso was coming out of the mower deck,” Brett told PEOPLE. “I lifted the mower off of him and I scooped him up and I had him in my arms. I was screaming more than he was. But he was screaming a lot.”
After four years and 15 surgeries, it was decided that Jake's leg would be amputated, and now at the age of 18 he's thriving. His mother, Jodi, also began a foundation called Limbs Matter, aiming at educating parents on the importance of keeping children in the house while someone is mowing the lawn.
Science Daily notes that the study recommends that children should be at least 12 before they're allowed to operate a push mower, and 16 before they drive a ride on mower. Proper methods and supervision should also be followed. They also suggest keeping kids under the age of 6 inside when the lawn mower is in use and removing any rocks or objects in the grass that could act as projectiles when hit by mower blades.
Also walk behind the mower, and if you have to back up ensure that your path is clear. You should always wait until the blades completely stop moving and the mower is turned off before trying to remove anything that may be caught.