Q. Our 14-year-old son wants to start mowing our lawn. I am worried about his safety around the lawn mower. Is there a specific age that is considered safe for mowing?
You are right to be concerned about lawn-mower safety. Thousands of children every year are treated in emergency rooms for lawn-mower related injuries.
The most common injuries are sprains and abrasions; however power mowers are responsible for a significant number of amputations as well.
The most important part of lawn mower safety is education for both parents and children about the dangers associated with lawn mowers. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommendations regarding ages for power mower use, but it is important to recognize that age is only one factor when considering whether your child is mature enough to mow the lawn. Other factors include strength and coordination.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has made the following basic recommendations:
Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers.
Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
Wear sturdy shoes when mowing (not sneakers or sandals).
Pick up loose objects from the lawn before mowing to prevent injuries caused by flying objects.
Wear hearing and eye protection when mowing.
Keep children indoors and at a safe distance from the area that you plan to mow.
Blade settings (setting the wheel height or dislodging debris) should be done by an adult, with the mower off and the spark plug removed or disconnected.
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.
For a more detailed list of guidelines, visit www.aap.org.