Steer Children Clear of Lawn Mower Injuries
National Medical Societies' Safety Tips Help Kids Avoid Becoming a Statistic
CHICAGO - As the school year draws to a close, thousands of children across the country will take on a familiar chore: mowing the lawn. June is National Home Safety Month and five national medical organizations are warning Americans that the routine task of lawn mowing can be extremely dangerous to children, the operator, and those nearby if proper safety precautions aren't taken.
Sadly, 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010, nearly 17,000 of them children under age 19, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. Lawn mower-related injuries are up 3 percent since 2009.
"Lawn mower injuries to children are easily preventable," said ASRM President Keith Brandt, MD. "Children should remain inside the house or under the direct supervision of another adult, whenever a lawn mower is being used. If no other adult is available, create a danger zone of 20 feet around the mower. Shut down immediately if anyone enters the danger zone."
To help prevent injuries, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) are educating adults and children about the importance of lawn mower safety.
"The ASMS is a proud partner in the coalition for lawn mower injury prevention," said ASMS President Steven Buchman, MD. "The significant number of devastating injuries that occur to both children and adults can be life changing events."
Many lawn mower-related injuries require a team of physicians from various specialties to properly repair them. Often, patients must endure painful reconstructive operations for months, sometimes years, to restore form and function.
"I've seen broken and dislocated bones, deep cuts, missing fingers and toes, limb amputations, burns, and eye injuries from lawn mower accidents," said ASPS President Phillip Haeck, MD. "The best way to treat a lawn mower-related injury is to prevent it."
"I cannot stress the importance of operating a lawn mower properly. The dangers are very real, but very preventable," said AAOS President Daniel J. Berry, MD. "Always remember to wear sturdy shoes - never sandals - when mowing and make sure your children are at a safe distance and that they don't operate a mower until they are old enough to control the machine."
Lawn mower injury prevention tips include:
- Children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a ride-on mower.
- 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.
- 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.
- Always wear eye and hearing protection.
Lawn mowers can be a cause of serious eye injury. This year the AAP Section on Ophthalmology has added the following to its safety tips: Children in the vicinity of running lawn mowers should wear polycarbonate protective eye wear at all times.
"Every year at this time, it is common to see children operating or playing around lawn mowers in unsafe ways. And every summer, thousands get hurt," said AAP President O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP. "We want parents and kids to be more aware of precautions to take so that injuries can be prevented."
To help educate the public, the ASRM, ASPS, and ASMS offer a video, "When Lawn Mowers Attack," with tips on how to avoid injuries.
The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery is an organization of more than 600 surgeons that perform microsurgery and other complex reconstructive surgeries. The ASRM is dedicated to promoting, encouraging and advancing the art and science of microsurgery and other complex reconstructions through education and research.
The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons is the oldest organization representing maxillofacial plastic surgeons. The Society accomplishes its mission to advance the science and practice of surgery of the facial region and the craniofacial skeleton through excellence in education and research, and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
With more than 36,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal health.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 7,000 physician members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.