Two-year-old loses feet in mowing accident, underscoring risks

Two-year-old loses feet in mowing accident, underscoring risks

A mowing accident in Florida in which a two-year-old lost both her feet tragically underscores the dangers posed by powerful lawn equipment. “The energy transferred by a typical lawn mower blade is equivalent to being shot in the hand with a .357 Magnum pistol,” says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, whose doctors see many such injuries. “In addition, a lawn mower can eject a piece of metal or wood up to 100 miles per hour.”

According to news reports, yesterday’s accident occurred when the girl was running in the yard as her father was cutting the grass with a lawn tractor. He didn’t see his daughter, who was behind him, and accidentally backed over her with the mower. The little girl was airlifted to a hospital in Tampa where she is being treated.

Sadly, such incidents can happen in an instant. In 2010, 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries with children under 19 accounting for nearly 17,000 of them, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Typically the injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, crushed and broken bones, burns, and even amputations. There’s no substitute for parental supervision but here’s what the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend to keep children safe.

  • Teach children to stay away from all running lawn mowers.
  • Don’t allow children to play in an area where a lawn mower is being used.
  • Remove stones, toys and other objects from the lawn before you start mowing.
  • Be alert and turn the machine off if a child enters the area.
  • Before and during backing, look behind and down for small children. Likewise, keep in mind that blind corners, shrubs, and trees, or other objects may block your view of a child.
  • Never allow a child to ride on a mower. Doctors commonly see children with severe injuries to their feet caused by riding on the back of a rider mower with a parent or grandparent.
  • Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a riding lawn mower.
  • Use caution when mowing hills and slopes. Mow across slopes with a push mower to avoid pulling the mower over your feet if you happen to slip. Mow up and down slopes with a riding mower to prevent the mower from tipping over.
  • Do not cut the grass when its wet.

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