Man MowingEvery summer, the University of Vermont Medical Center Division of Plastics and Reconstruction Surgery provides trauma reconstructive care to children who have been injured by lawn mowers. This year, we want to reach out to families and urge them to reconsider how they mow their lawns when there are children around. It is our hope that establishing a child safe program will keep all children safe from lawnmower tragedy.

Prevent tragedy

The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that there are 253,000 injuries per year in the United States are related to lawn mowers. Every year 17,000 children are injured.

  • 80 percent of these children are males under the age of 19.
  • 97 percent of the injuries are toe/foot involving amputations.

We ask families to have a dinner time conversation and establish safety rules.

  • Children under 12 years old should not operate a push mower.
  • Children under 16 years old should not operate a riding mower.
  • Children should NOT ride on your lap while operating a riding mower.
  • Before mowing survey the lawn for toys, rocks, or sticks that can become projectiles; please keep children in the house when mowing.
  • Be careful of low-lying limbs from trees.
  • Do not mow when grass is wet and slippery.
  • Wear boots when mowing, not sandals.
  • Wear hearing and eye protection.
  • Use mowers that stop when control bar is released.
  • Never pull mowers backwards toward you.
  • Wait to dismount a mower until blade stops.
  • Refuel mower when it is turned off and cool.

The Facts

  • Riding mowers cause more injuries than push mowers.
  • Lawn mower blades rotate at a speed of 3,000-4,000 revolutions per minute.
  • Injuries from mowers include soft tissue, fractures, amputations of both upper and lower extremities, eye and face lacerations, and burns.
  • Medical services utilized for caring for these sorts of injuries include: Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Department, Burn, Shock, Trauma, Orthopedics, Pediatric Surgery, Nursing, Spiritual Care, Operating Room, Anesthesia, Plastic Surgery, Pediatric Intensive Care, Pediatric Medicine, Pediatric Psychiatry, Social Services, Nutrition, Rehabilitation, Prosthetic, and Physical Therapy.
  • Average Hospital Stay: 7.8 days for injuries from push mowers, 15 days for injuries from riding mowers.
  • Injuries from these sorts frequently result in Lifelong disability.
  • Injuries from these sorts always result in parental anxiety and guilt. 

Learn it Safe. Teach it safe. Keep our children safe.

Remember every year is different, and our child or children may not remember the rules from last year. We are all in training. Make lawnmower safety a dinner time topic; the rules are to keep the family safe from tragedy. Riding mowers are made for only one rider, and, it is never safe to have a child in your lap. Parents, you are in charge, so don’t settle for unsafe practices.

Elizabeth St. James, RN, CPSN, is a certified plastic surgical nurse in Plastics, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery at the University of Vermont Medical Center; Donald Laub, MD, is a plastic surgeon at The University of Vermont Medical Center and professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM; Robert D. Nesbit, MD, is a plastic surgeon at The University of Vermont Medical Center and an assistant professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM.

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