Mowing the lawn can boost your home’s curb appeal and gain you physical-activity points, but new research details the injury risk it can pose. Each year across the United States, 6,394 people, on average, sustain serious injuries — including burns, cuts and broken bones — in lawn-mower accidents, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins researchers, published in the journal Public Health Reports.
Based on eight years of emergency room and hospitalization data, lacerations are most common (47 percent of injuries), followed by fractures (22 percent) and amputations (22 percent), with the wrist and hands injured more often than feet and toes. Most injuries require a medical procedure, and nearly 10 percent need hospitalization for surgery, at an average cost of about $37,000 per patient. Men are injured more often than women (85 percent vs. 15 percent).
Among kids, children up to age 4 are more likely to have foot or lower-extremity injuries and more likely to have amputation than are those 15 and older. The study attributed this to youngsters’ “running into the yard while a family member is operating a lawn mower or sitting on the lap of a riding mower operator, falling and their foot becoming trapped in the machine.” Older teens and adults are more apt to sustain hand and upper-extremity injuries, “likely because they stuck their hands into the mower to clear debris from the mower and were injured by the blade,” according to the study.
To be safe, keep children and pets inside while someone is mowing, and do not let children ride on lawn mowers. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that kids should be 12 or older to use a push mower and at least 16 to operate a riding mower. The Hopkins researchers urge the design of safer lawn mowers, suggesting that a mower that would automatically stop working if human flesh is detected near the blades could help prevent injuries.