Count the mistakes made in May 2012, when a St. Paul home day-care provider allowed two children in her care to ride on the back of a lawn mower driven by another adult, and then worked in her garden instead of supervising the kids, according to state reports. One of the children fell off, and the adult then backed the mower over the kid, who had all five toes on one foot amputated due to the injury. The day-care provider then failed to immediately report the injury to state and county licensing authorities, who temporarily shut the day-care down in July 2012.
The case was resolved last week, when the provider agreed to surrender her child care license, according to state Department of Human Services documents that were released today. But the case got me thinking more broadly about the risks this time of year of children being injured by lawn mowers. Turns out, about 17,000 kids are hurt every year in the U.S. by lawn mowers -- with half of those injuries involving children riding on lawn mowers or playing with power mowers. The rate of hospitalization of these kids doubles the hospitalization rate for other consumer-product injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics just teamed up with two professional surgical associations to issue guidance to families on kids and mowers. Here are some of the key recommendations:
- Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
- Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a driving lawn mower.
- Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins.
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
- Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.