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Who Mows the Lawn?

Lawn mowers are commonplace and many households use a variety of mowers to care for the grassy spaces around their homes.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Lawn mowers are commonplace and many households use a variety of mowers to care for the grassy spaces around their homes. Whether using a push mower or a ride-on mower, it’s always important to keep safety in mind.  Lawn mower operators must understand safety procedures and set expectations with others who use this equipment.

     Each year many children are injured severely by lawn mowers. Power mowers can be especially dangerous. Because lawn mowers are easy to use, sometimes people consider allowing their children to perform the weekly task of cutting the lawn. But when is a child old enough to mow the lawn?  The answer depends on many factors.  Before being considered to mow the lawn, a child should show the maturity, good judgment, strength, and coordination that the job requires. In general, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should be at least 12 years of age to safely operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower and 16 years of age to safely operate a riding lawn mower.  Regardless of age, it is important the child be taught how to use a lawn mower. Before allowing a youth to mow the lawn alone, an adult must spend time with him or her teaching them how to do the job safely. Careful adult supervision is a must until it is certain that he or she can manage the task alone

     Mowing the lawn can be dangerous for youth and adults alike.  Most lawn mower-related injuries can be prevented by following just a few safety guidelines.  Most importantly, read, understand, and follow all instructions in the operating manual before using the equipment.  Become thoroughly familiar with the controls and the proper useof the lawn mower. 

     Before mowing, check the conditions of the weather and the area being mowed.  Do not mow during bad weather, such as during a thunderstorm.  Do not mow wet grass, and do not mow if there is not enough daylight to see clearly.  Make sure that children (and pets) are indoors or at a safe distance well away from the area being mowed.  Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area.  Clear the mowing area of any objects such as twigs, stones, and toys that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades.  Make sure that protective guards, shields, the grass catcher, and other types of safety equipment are placed properly on the lawn mower. Inspect the mower for loose belts, missing or damaged guards, or accumulations of grass and leaves in and around the mower deck.

     While mowing, be sure to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, as well as eye and hearing protection. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps. Use caution when approaching corners, trees or anything that might block your view.  If the mower strikes an object, stop, turn the mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired.  Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully watch while mowing in reverse.

     Never allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on lawn mowers or garden tractors. Riding mowers are designed to be operated by only one person. You should operate the equipment from the driver’s seat only and keep both feet on the machine at all times.

     Use extra caution when mowing a slope.  When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades.  When using a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over. Also watch for holes, ruts, bumps, rocks, or other hidden objects. Any kind of uneven terrain could cause the machine to overturn.

     Always operate the mower with the correct attachments and safety features in place. Do not operate a machine unless the grass catcher, discharge guard, or other safety devices are in place and working. When crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas disengage the mower deck and wait for the blades to stop completely.  Stop and completely turn off the engine before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or walking away from the mower.

     Freshly cut grass is one of the fragrances of summer.  Keep your kids and yourself safe as you heed these mowing safety tips! 

By Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
lbates@uaex.edu

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