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Avoid Summer Tragedy: Keep Kids Away from Lawn Mowers

Doctors are concerned about a rise in the number of mower-related injuries to kids this year. Credit: Kroesseel/Morguefile
Doctors are concerned about a rise in the number of mower-related injuries to kids this year. Credit: Kroesseel/Morguefile
July 6, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Broken bones, amputations, and permanent disabilities are among the preventable injuries to children doctors say are on the rise – due to a dangerous mix of kids and lawn mowers.

Dr. Dale Jarka, pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Children's Mercy Hospital, says the hospital has already treated more lawn mower-related injuries this season than all of last year. She says people need to teach children from the beginning these are very dangerous machines, not playthings.

"It's a fun thing. They think it's a toy, they're riding with grandpa. And then, they fall off and they fall into the blade," says Jarka. "We see it every year. Another one that's common, unfortunately, is that these mowers are very loud. The operator doesn't hear them, and can back over them."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be at least 12 years old before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a riding lawn mower. Jarka adds that children should never be allowed to ride as passengers on mowers, and should be kept out of the yard while it's being mowed.

While parents may be eager to pass mowing chores on to their children, Jarka says it's crucial they wait until their kids have reached not just the right age, but also the right maturity level.

"The driver has to be aware of the concept of uneven terrain, where it's appropriate to mow, and where it's appropriate not to mow," she says. "And the operator needs to have the maturity to know they shouldn't have children on riding lawn mowers with them, and no children around."

Jarka adds that anyone operating a mower should wear closed-toed shoes, never flip-flops or sandals.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO