By Betsy Flagler
After a life-threatening lawn mower accident in April, a Mooresville family is grappling with how fast a routine chore can turn into tragedy.
Four-year-old Preston Loyd, the son of Ashton and Cinamon Loyd, was in the family's yard when his grandfather accidentally backed over him with a riding lawn mower. The child was airlifted to Carolina Medical Center's Levine Children's Hospital, where he continues to receive complex treatment for major internal injuries.
“My sweet little boy has a long way to go, but we are prayerful that we can make it through all of this,” Preston's mother writes at www.caringbridge.org. Like many other families facing health crises, the Loyd family uses a personalized Web site through Caring Bridge to keep friends and family updated.
The lawn mower is one of the most dangerous tools around the home. About 210,000 people – 16,000 of them under 19 – were treated for mower-related injuries in 2007, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A team of surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics teamed up to educate the public. Their tips include:
Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you.
Children should be at least 12 before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 for a ride-on mower.
Children should never be passengers on riding mowers.
Make sure that children are indoors or at a safe distance well away from the area that you plan to mow.
When parents and caregivers understand the abilities of children at various stages of development, they've taken a step toward preventing serious injuries, says Dr. Martin Eichelberger, founder of Safe Kids Worldwide
For example, little kids lack impulse control and cannot be trusted to stay in one spot in a yard.
Limitations by age group, from the report, include:
Children ages 1 to 4 have muscles and bones that are not yet fully developed. They are also still learning how to balance themselves.
Children ages 5 to 9 have trouble recognizing and avoiding obstacles and lack an adult's hand-eye coordination.