SIDNEY — ‘Tis the season for mowing, more mowing and much more mowing. The April and May showers have led to green grass which needs to be mowed.
“There are 100,000 injuries from lawn mowing each year,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview. “More than 800 children get run over by a lawn mower every year.”
Locally, said Lenhart, one to two people per week are treated at Wilson Health emergency room for a lawn mower accident.
Lenhart said he talked with Wilson Health emergency services specialist Dr. Fred Hausmann, who shared the worst lawn mower accidents are those involving a push mower when the person’s foot gets caught under the mower.
“Usually the person is pulling the mower back and they lose their footing,” said Lenhart. The mower’s blade then cuts the person’s foot.
“There are also a few rollovers where the person is mowing on an incline,” he said. “The data was surprising to me. It was higher than I thought it would be.”
Lenhart said a person mowing should always wear the proper footwear, which does not include sandals, flip-flops or going barefoot.
“You need to wear good, sturdy shoes that have good traction,” said Lenhart. “Flip-flops that don’t ft right can cause you to lose your balance. If you’re backing the mower up or mowing on an incline, you’re going to get in trouble.”
Lenhart said he has observed a few people on riding lawn mowers with children riding with them. This is also a dangerous situation, he said.
“If a child is less than six years old, he or she should stay in the house while you’re mowing,” said Lenhart. “They like to run after a lawn mower and follow the person around the yard.”
Before mowing each time, the lawn should be cleared of sticks, toys and stones.
“If the lawn mower blades hits one of these items, it will fly up like a missile,” he said.
Loose gravel can also cause problems, he said.
“We had an inmate who was mowing the grass. The mower picked up some loose gravel and it bused out a glass window,” he said. “You have to watch your surrounds and be aware of what you’re doing.”
Lenhart said you should never pull a lawn mower backward while mowing. Don;t touch the lawn mower’s engine if it’s been running a while as it can get hot and burn the person.
“Never put fuel into a hot engine,” said Lenhart. “That’s a recipe for a lawn mower injury.”
A person should also wear ear protection while mowing the grass.
“The lawn mowers with zero turn, I believe, are louder than the others when you are sitting on top of the engine,” said Lenhart.
One question he’s asked is when is a child old enough to mow the grass.
“This all depends on the child’s maturity and size,” said Lenhart. “Generally though, a 12-year-old is old enough to use a push mower. A 16-year-old is old enough to operate a riding lawn mower.”
And some don’t when mowing the grass: Don’t move the lawn mower in reverse, don’t mow at night and don’t mow when it’s wet, said Lenhart. And make sure the kids are out of the yard before you start mowing.
“Prepare your lawn mower before you mow each time,” said Lenhart.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.