Summer safety: Officials warn of lawn-care dangers

Man receives sentence in two-year-old murder

The grass is growing in Moffat County. As the grass grows, so does the amount of mowing needed to keep as tidy lawn.

But grass may not be the only thing being cut.

Elisa Shackelton of the Moffat County Cooperative Extension Office stresses the importance of safety while mowing the lawn.

"Mowers can be very dangerous," she said. "Safety precautions should be followed."

A serious injury has already occurred this growing season in Moffat County.

A man was mowing his lawn. The noise of the mower and concentration on the task at hand made the man unaware of his surroundings. Being unaware, he backed over his daughter, severing both her feet.

Each year, lawn mowers injure more than 110,000 people serious enough to require a hospital visit.

Shackelton says the four types of lawn mower accidents that cause the majority of injuries are:

n Contact with the rotating cutting blade.

n Objects propelled from the chute of the mower. Rocks, glass and wire are hurled at speeds of more than 170 mph. These "missiles" can be thrown 50 feet or more.

n Overturning a riding lawn mower.

n Failure to pay attention when backing up.

Shackelton tells mowers to check the lawn extensively before mowing. A 170-mph rock can do some serious damage so it is crucial to check and clear the lawn of objects such as sticks, stones, toys, bones and whatever else is on the lawn besides grass.

Shackelton tells mowers to check the lawn extensively before mowing. A 170-mph rock can do some serious damage so it is crucial to check and clear the lawn of objects such as sticks, stones, toys, bones and whatever else is on the lawn besides grass.

The Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago said that more than 2,000 children are permanently disabled each year by power lawn mowers. Many of these incidents require the youth victims to undergo amputations to remove severed limbs.

"The wounding capacity of a lawn mower's blade is three times the power generated by a .357 magnum gun," Robert Bielski, chief of pediatric orthopedic surgery at Loyola, said. "Children, particularly those six years of age and under, are unaware of the dangers associated with these machines."

To combat the onslaught of youth injuries caused by the task of mowing a lawn, Bielski suggests parents; teach their children about the dangers posed by lawn mowers; prohibit children under the age of 14 from operating mowers; and require young children to play indoors when the lawn is being mowed.

"Adults must recognize the wounding capacity of these machines, instruct their children accordingly and use all safety precautions when operating lawn mowers," Bielski said.

"Make sure the kids are far away from the mowing area," Shackelton said. "It is important to teach children to stay away from mowers."

Other safety tips

n Handle gasoline with care. Do not fill tank while engine is running. Let the engine cool first and always fuel the machine outdoors.

n On a riding lawn mower, passengers are a safety "no-no." Riding lawn mowers were devised for one person, not two, even if the rider is a child.

n Take proper maintenance care of the mower. Clean and run a safety-check before and during the mowing season.

n Dress properly. No bare feet or sandals. Experts recommend steel-toed boots. Wear tight-fitting clothes.

n Don't mow the lawn when it is wet.

n Turn off the mower before leaving it. Even if you are leaving it only for a second.

n Disconnect spark plug or power cord before working on the mower.

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