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Prevent lawn mower tragedy

May 1, 2012
The Daily News

A young Kentucky boy is fighting for his life after being run over with a lawn mower.

The boy's grandfather, Ricky Mefford, says he was mowing a neighbor's yard in Mason County when his 3-year-old grandson, Brandon, fell in front of the mower. Mefford says he tried to avoid the child and tried turning the mower off - but there just wasn't time.

The child suffered severe injuries to an arm, a leg, and the side of his stomach. Brandon had to have part of his arm amputated and may lose his leg.

Meanwhile, police in central Indiana say a 5-year-old boy's foot was partially severed after he fell from riding lawn tractor his father was driving.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department says Jace Whitis was flown to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for treatment after the accident at the family's home in Elizabethtown.

Sheriff's Maj. Todd Noblitt said Jace fell from the tractor while trying to retrieve a wrench he had dropped. Noblitt says the mower's blade struck the boy's foot.

And in Memphis, Shelby County Sheriff's deputies say a child has been severely injured by a lawn mower.

Chester Ederds was mowing a lawn at a motel and his 3-year-old and 4-year-old grandsons were riding on the mower with him.

Deputies said as Ederds went around a stump, the younger boy fell off and his right arm went underneath the mower. The blades severely injured his arm.

Children and lawn mowers don't mix.

The recent rainfall, mixed with extended daylight hours, means the grass is growing faster than ever.

Caution must be used, however.

The power lawn mower is one of the most dangerous tools around the home. Each year, some 75,000 people are treated in emergency departments because of injuries caused by power mowers.

More than 10,000 of those hurt are younger than 18 years.

Older children and adolescents are most often hurt while cutting lawns as chores or as a way to earn money.

Lawn mower injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, and eye and other injuries.

Some injuries are very serious. Both users of mowers, and those who are nearby can be hurt.

In light of these statistics, safety experts recommend that children under 12 should not operate walk-behind power or hand mowers, and children under 16 should not use riding mowers.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, one in every five deaths caused by a lawn mower involves a child.

And only a small percentage of the lawn mower injuries are caused by mechanical failure. Most are the result of human error.

Safety experts estimate that most of the deaths to children occur when a child falls off a riding mower and is run over, or when a child is in the path of a moving mower.

Many of these unfortunate situations could have been avoided or their impact reduced dramatically if the safety procedures were followed.

Safety experts offer the following tips for safe lawn mower operation:

- Read the owner's manual and know how to operate the equipment.

- Don't cut grass when it is wet.

- Don't allow passengers on a riding mower.

- Keep children out of the yard and indoors while you're mowing the lawn.

- It is recommended that children under the age of 14 not be allowed to operate a lawn mower.

- Check your lawn for items such as sticks, rocks, toys or hand tools. Make sure nothing is hidden in the grass.

- Handle fuel with care. Always wipe up fuel spills as soon as they occur.

- Never fill the fuel tank on a mower while it is still hot.

- Never smoke or use any kind of flame around gasoline.

- Wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, eye protection and heavy gloves. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-resistant rubber soles.

- Don't remove or disable guards, shields or any other safety devices.

- Use a lawn mower equipped with an automatic blade cut-off. Stay behind the handle until the blade stops. Never reach under a mower while it is still operating.

- Never leave a mower running while unattended. A mower left running unattended can be fascinating to a child. If the mower has an electric start, the key should never be left in the ignition.

- If you need to remove debris to check the blade, disconnect the wire from the spark plug.

- Always start the mower outdoors. Never operate a mower where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement.

Children should not operate lawn mowers until they have displayed appropriate levels of judgment, strength, coordination and maturity necessary for their safe operation, safety experts say.



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