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Lawn mowing is a warm-weather chore that most adults think very little of. Yet, the drudgery of mowing, combined with large, powerful equipment can create a very dangerous situation. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates as many as 35,000 accidents happen every year related to riding lawn mowers and another 40,000 occur in the operation of push mowers.

Children are at special risk, and the stories are tragic. Just a few weeks ago, a Florida toddler lost an arm and both legs in a mowing accident. To protect kids, the Safe Kids River Cities Communities Coalition offers the following tips:

Never allow a child anywhere near a lawn mower when it’s in operation. Have another responsible adult stay with the child away from the mowing area. Children under 6 should be kept indoors. Better yet – how about a trip to the park, pool or movies?

Kids are often attracted to the noise and the movement of the mower. To them, it looks like fun. They don’t understand the danger and don’t realize you can’t hear them and may not see them. Be vigilant. Don’t assume a child will remain in one place (they won’t). Watch carefully in all directions. Always.

Never, ever give a child a ride on a riding mower, even with the blades disengaged. You don’t want to make the mower a toy or reinforce a child’s interest in it. Children who have been given rides previously may suddenly appear in the mowing area seeking another ride and be run over or backed over. Children riding on someone’s lap could fall off and be run over. Even if the mowing deck isn’t running, a child can be very seriously injured this way.

As children get older, they naturally want to help more, and mowing the grass is often one of the chores they take on.

Most children are physically strong enough and mentally ready for the responsibility of using a push mower at age 12. If your child will be mowing this year for the first time, be sure to talk to him/her about safety: how to mow a hill, what to do across gravel and so on. And watch them carefully as they learn this new skill. The CPC provides information on riding and push mower safety on its website, cpsc.gov.

Because of the additional dangers of riding mower use, children should be at least 16 before they are allowed to use them.

The River Cities Safe Kids Coalition offers safety education and programs for residents of the Tri-State area and is sponsored by King’s Daughters Medical Center. For more information about Safe Kids programs, please call (606) 408-9301.

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