By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The April showers (and thunderstorms) have arrived, thus putting off the first lawn mowing of the season. However, said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, the rain is allowing final preparations to be made for the event.

“Probably one of the biggest question a parent or grandparent can ask is if the child is old enough to mow the lawn,” said Lenhart. “Seventy-five people have been killed by lawn mower accidents in the United States last year. Many more were disfigured by a mow throwing a stone and hitting them or being cut by the blade.

“People enjoy mowing grass and they like having a nice looking lawn,” he said.

Before you start mowing, said Lenhart, a person should read through the instruction book, especially if they have a new mower.

“They should make sure the mower is in working order and the protection guards are in place,” he said. “You should also wear the appropriate clothing. Wear shoes and not flip-flops. Wear protective glasses and hearing protection.”

All twigs, rocks and toys should be moved from the yard before you start mowing the grass, he said.

“If a stone is picked up by the blade, it can reach 150 mph before it hits something,” said Lenhart. “You should watch as you’re mowing to make sure you don’t go into any holes and ditches can have hidden hazards.”

If you’re on a riding mower, said Lenhart, and mowing on a slope, you should go up and down instead of sideways. This will prevent the mower from tipping over and landing on the driver.

If the person is using a push mower, they should mow from side to side on a sloped area.

“Don’te mow in reverse because you can’t see what’s behind you,” said Lenhart.

And for the all important questions: When is a child old enough to mow the grass?

“That’s a question that all parents and grandparents go through,” said Lenhart. “It’s a judgment call based on the kid’s strength and coordination.

“A 12-year-old might be fine walking behind a mower,” he said. “But there might be a 10-11 year old that has the judgment to be OK. Or it might be a 12-13 year old who is ready.”

No one, he said, under the age of 16 should be driving a riding lawn mower.

“That’s because of all the moving parts and the speed of the mower,” said Lenhart.

Before allowing a child to start mowing the grass, the parents/grandparents should spend time with them explaining how to mow and sharing safety tips.

“They (child) need to know how to stop the mower,” said Lenhart. “The parent should be outside to supervise them.”

Lenhart said children under the age of six and all pets should be in the house when the lawn is being mowed.

“If they are running around in the yard, it’s dangerous for them and the person mowing the grass,” said Lenhart. “Kids that young don’t recognize danger.”

Lenhart said there are other safety tips when operating a lawn mower.

“Never let anyone ride on a riding lawn mower with you,” said Lenhart. “Kids can get hurt if they fall off of it.

“I’ve seen people mowing grass with a wagon being pulled behind the mower,” said Lenhart. “That’s also very dangerous.”

And what’s the biggest safety tip Lenhart can offer?

“No drinking and driving when you’re mowing,” said Lenhart. “It’s no different than if you’re driving a car. Wait until you’re done mowing to enjoy your adult beverage.”

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.