COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lawn mowers are a surprisingly common culprit for adolescent injury in the U.S., sending 13 kids a day to seek emergency treatment, a new study finds.
Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio obtained this stunning figure from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a database that is both operated and maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Although the prevalence of lawn mower-related injuries among kids has decreased from decades past, it is clear that their potential to harm is often overlooked.
The most common injuries afflicted by lawn mowers were found to be cuts (39 percent) and burns (15 percent). Hands were the most common region to be injured, followed by legs, feet, and toes.
Ninety-two percent of children were deemed fit to be released for their wounds after treatment, but eight percent required hospitalization.
Interestingly, bystanders to one operating a lawnmower were four times as likely to require hospitalization as an operator themselves.
The prevalence of different injury types also varied depending on age. Kids younger than five were disproportionately likely to injure themselves by touching a hot surface, being backed over, or being a bystander.
Kids aged five to 17, however, were more likely than younger individuals to be cut or hit by the lawn mower or a projectile.
The researchers recommend that parents implement safety measures with their use of a mower— e.g., shields to keep a child’s limbs from getting under the mower.
“While we are happy to see that the number of lawn mower-related injuries has declined over the years, it is important for families to realize that these injuries still occur frequently during warm weather months,” says Dr. Gary Smith, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the hospital, in a press release.
They also advise parents to never let children under the age of 12 operate a mower.
Even when one’s child is of a sufficient age, they highly recommended a parent teaching and monitoring their kid initially.
In addition, dangerous objects should be removed from the lawn prior to mowing, and one should always mow in a forward motion.
“We would like to see manufacturers continue to improve design and include additional needed safety features on all mowers,” says Smith.
The study’s findings were published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.