SIDNEY – With grass growing again and people out mowing their lawns, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart wants residents to think about lawnmower safety.
In the United States, 75 people are killed annually in lawnmower accidents and another 20,000 suffer injuries, Lenhart said during his weekly interview.
Three people suffered serious injuries while mowing last year in Shelby County, Lenhart said. One person was struck by a car, one person fell off a riding lawnmower while mowing a ditch, and another person fell asleep.
And on Monday, a fire in Anna was thought to be started by a lawnmower in a garage.
“Somehow or another it started a fire in the garage and the house,” Lenhart said.
Lawnmowers can get extremely hot, Lenhart said. Users need to be cognizant of the heat mowers produce and always should allow a lawnmower to cool before filling the gas tank.
“Beware of exhaust on lawnmowers,” Lenhart said. “The exhaust can get up to 240 degrees. Of course, you can boil water at 212. That gives you some idea of how hot it gets.”
Nationally, almost half of all lawnmower accidents result in cuts while 22 percent cause fractures and another 22 percent result in amputations. Feet and hands are the body parts most often injured by lawnmowers.
If it’s wet outside, grass clippings can get caught under a lawnmower, which can lead to injuries.
“Do not use your hands or feet to try to knock grass out of that system,” Lenhart said.
Lawnmowers are extremely powerful and can propel objects 150 to 200 mph.
“A lawn mower blade will pick up a rock, a stick, and it will throw that,” Lenhart said. “If that hits you as a human or that hits a window or a car or whatever, you’re going to have some damage.”
At the old Shelby County jail, a lawnmower shot a stone across the street and broke a picture window.
“It was like a gun,” Lenhart said. “It went straight across, and it busted a big picture window.”
Before starting to mow, people should look out for things like sticks, stones, toys and holiday decorations that could be in a yard. Also, children and pets should be kept inside while a lawnmower is in use.
“A lot of kids will run toward a lawnmower,” Lenhart said. “It’s not a toy, keep that in mind.”
To operate a push mower without supervision, Lenhart said, users generally should be at least 12 years old. For riding lawnmowers, users should be 16 or older.
In no instance, regardless of ages, should a passenger be on a riding lawnmower.
“You should never have another passenger on that ride-on lawnmower,” Lenhart said.
When operating a lawnmower, individuals should wear proper clothing and protective equipment such as long pants, hearing protection and eye protection. Sandals and flip-flops should never be worn while mowing.
“That’s a recipe for injury,” Lenhart said.
For sloping terrain, all mowers are approved for slopes of 0 to 15 percent, Lenhart said. Tractors should be used with slopes of 16 to 22 percent, he said, and slopes of 23 percent or more require string trimmers or other specialized equipment. If a mower has a rollover bar, it should be kept up in case of a rollover.
Users should read their manual before operating a lawnmower. If a manual isn’t available, Lenhart suggested doing a Google search to find a copy of the manual online.
In other topics of interest, Lenhart said the Shelby County Board of Elections requested security for Tuesday’s primary election because of criticism posted on Facebook. The Sheriff’s Office provided security throughout Tuesday because of the threatening nature of the posts.
“They determined those were threats so they asked for security,” Lenhart said.
Lenhart praised the people with tractors who lined the road Monday for the funeral procession of Ivan E. Zorn, a man from Jackson Center.
“We had like 250-plus tractors for the Zorn funeral,” Lenhart said. “That’s the second time it happened in a month that I really felt good about living and working in Shelby County.”
Lenhart also felt pride about the community earlier this month when more than 400 cars drove through Russia to pay respect to Randall Marchal.
“Both of those were nice touches from hometown people to show their respect,” Lenhart said.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.