Use extra caution with kids mowing lawns

Protecting children during the summer months means more than putting on a bike helmet and sunscreen. Preventing injuries from lawn mowing is equally as important, experts say, as National Safety Month begins.

Mowing lawns is common in summer. For many teenagers, this work may be their first opportunity to earn money. But mowing the lawn can be dangerous, if proper safety precautions are not taken.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 16,000 children under the age of 19 were treated by a doctor for lawn mower-related injuries in 2007.

Kevin Latz, a physician at Children’s Mercy Hospital, does reconstructive surgeries on children. He warns that a wound caused by a lawn mower can be devastating.

“Prevention is the key. Often there is no way to undo the injury,” he said.

Latz explains that mower injuries tend to be traumatic to the feet, hands or legs, and often the effects will stay with that person for the rest of their life. He advises parents that children under 16 never should be on a riding lawn mower and small children always should stay indoors when someone is mowing.

The most common injury Latz sees is to children who were passengers on a riding lawn mower. He says those injuries result in multiple painful reconstructive surgeries.

“Often, at the end of it all, the child remains disfigured and has much less function than he or she did before.”

Because children have a natural curiosity about lawn mowers, Latz tells parents they need to be on their toes long after National Safety Month ends.

More safety tips are available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at