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Cutting The Lawn Should Not Be Dangerous - Luke Powell

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Following up on the recent column about ladder safety, today we again present safety tips on one of the most dangerous tools around the home, the power lawn mower. We all enjoy a neat yard and, for many youngsters, mowing is their first paying job. However, a mower is a dangerous instrument if not handled with great care. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that over 110,000 people visit hospital emergency rooms annually from mower accidents. The University of Arkansas suggests the following safety practices. • Read operating instructions and then follow them. • Train operators. Be sure every operator understands how the mower operates and demonstrate proper use. Observe the operator until satisfied that he/she can handle the mower safely. Some experts consider 12 the minimum age for a walk-behind mower and 16 for a riding mower. • Check your lawn before mowing. Objects picked up and hurled by the blade cause many injuries, even deaths. Clear the lawn of sticks, stones, toys, dog bones and other objects. Make sure the blade brake is working. • Check guards and shields. Be sure all protective devices are in place and that height is adjusted before starting the mower. Shields and guards will prevent numerous injuries if used. • Dress properly. No bare feet, sandals, or sneakers! Always wear sturdy, non-slip, preferably steel-toed safety shoes. • Handle gasoline with care. Do not fill the gasoline tank while the engine is running. Let it cool first. Fuel up outdoors and wipe up all spills. • Keep all persons and pets away from mowing area. A mower blade can pick up and throw objects with force sufficient to seriously injure or kill. • No riders on riding mowers. Extra riders can be thrown from the mower and run over. They also can distract an operator, contributing to careless mistakes. • No horseplay around lawn mower. Playing with a mower has caused many serious injuries. • Do not use riding mowers on steep slopes. Drive up and down slopes when operating a riding mower. Mow across the slope when using a walk-behind mower. • Take care of your mower. The operator-presence switch should stop the mower immediately when you release the control. Clean and safety-check your mower during the mowing season. If you have any doubt about how to adjust or repair your mower or sharpen your mower blade, see an expert. An annual inspection by an experienced service person is a good idea anyway. • Store fuel safely. Store gasoline outside the house and away from any heat source. • Use earplugs to preserve your hearing. Inability to hear high-pitched sounds is the first indication of damage. Hearing loss from loud noise is permanent. • Electric mowers. Make sure your cord is always like new and never run over it. If it’s double insulated, never use anything but a 3-prong plug. • While you mow. Mow advancing forward whenever possible so you can see where you’re going. Turn off the mower before you leave it – even for a moment. Mower mufflers can produce severe burns even after mowing is done. • Watch for children. They move quickly and often pop up where we don’t expect them. • Servicing. Disconnect the spark plug or power cord before working on your mower. Safe mowing practices are just common sense, but a reminder every now and then, especially at the start of the mowing season, always helps. Take a few minutes to review these safety suggestions and spend your time enjoying your lawn, not visiting the emergency room. Luke Powell is an assistant fire chief with the BBVFC, where he has been a member since 1994. He is a nationally-certified emergency medical technician, works as a firefighter/EMT for the Lewes VFC and operates Emergency Pro Property Management LLC. Luke is a life-long area resident, lives in Fenwick Island and can be reached at [email protected]

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