Lawn and Garden Safety

The hum of a mower and the smell of fresh-cut grass are telltale signs of spring. However, before cranking up the mower and string trimmer, be sure to include an ounce of prevention with those quarts of oil and gallons of gasoline.  

Each year, approximately 317,210 people nationwide are treated for various injuries resulting from lawn and garden tools, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Many of these injuries can be prevented when using proper safety precautions. 

“Spending time in the garden or working in the yard can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, reduce stress and get physical activity, said Michael Fitch, MD, professor of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Whether you’re a beginner or expert at outdoor chores, it’s important to be aware of the many dangers and hazards that can be presented.” 

Fitch also advises against giving young children rides on mowers or tractors— as the child may fall off and be injured. Giving rides may also lead to children approaching the mower during operation without being seen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, safe gardening and lawn tips can also include:

Pre-Start Inspection:

  • Check for loose or damaged belts on mowers or trimmers.
  • Ensure all blades are secure, balanced and covered.
  • Be aware of any fluid leaks.
  • Walk the area to be mowed and remove debris such as rocks, sticks, bottles, etc.
  • The chute of the mower should be pointed away from people, animals, buildings and traffic.

Lawn Mower Safety:

  • Never allow children under the age of 12 to operate a push mower and children under 16 should not operate a riding lawn mower.
  • Keep young children and pets indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used.
  • Do not mow near drop-offs, ditches, embankments or steep slopes. Use a string trimmer to cut grass in these locations.
  • Stay alert for anyone who may enter the mowing area and always look down and behind before and during using reverse.
  • Slow down when turning and make wide, gradual turns, especially when mowing on slopes. Mow up and down slopes, not across.

Dress to Protect:

  • Wear safety goggles, gloves, sturdy shoes, socks and long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Protect hearing by wearing ear muffs or ear plugs when using machinery.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET.
  • Wide-brimmed hats, sun shades and sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher can help prevent sunburn and skin cancer.

Those working outdoors also should stay hydrated with water, take breaks often and pay attention to signs of heat-related illnesses.

“By practicing safe yard habits, you can drastically reduce your risk of injury or injury to others nearby,” said Fitch.