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Published on June 09, 2015

MU Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon Raises Awareness of Lawn Mower Safety

Daniel Hoernschemeyer

Daniel Hoernschemeyer

COLUMBIA, Mo. (June 9, 2015) ― As the summer months progress, many children are spending more time outdoors, and some will even begin new chores like mowing the lawn. Because of the potential for dangerous injuries, Daniel Hoernschemeyer, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at University of Missouri Health Care, encourages people to take precautions, no matter if an adult or a child is using the mower.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2010, more than 253,000 people — nearly 17,000 of them children younger than 19 years old — were treated for mower-related injuries. Riding mowers cause more injuries each year than push mowers and the biggest risks that cause the most serious injuries include children being run over or the mower tipping.

Many lawn mower-related injuries require a team of physicians from various specialties to properly address the injury, trauma, and recovery.

"Patients often endure numerous reconstructive surgeries for months, and sometimes years, to restore form and function to the injured areas," Hoernschemeyer said. "The dangers are very real but very preventable."

The most frequent mower-related injuries are cuts caused by the blades, burns, broken bones and amputation of limbs. According to the CPSC, 80 percent of lawn mower injuries in children happen to boys, and are most often on the arms or hands.

Hoernschemeyer suggests following these safety guidelines when using lawn mowers:

  • Children should be at a safe distance from the area you are mowing — inside is the best option.
  • Children should never be passengers on riding mowers.
  • 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 — and then carefully look for others behind you.
  • Children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a riding mower.
  • Walk the area you are about to mow ahead of time to get rid of stones, debris and toys to prevent injuries from flying objects.