Lawnmower Injuries in Tennessee
As the Spring season comes to Nashville I have noticed that the local Nashville news sources begin to broadcast stories of people, mostly Children, who have suffered serious injuries and death as the result of lawnmower injuries. At The Miller Law Offices in Nashville, increasing public awareness of dangerous activities and products is an important part of our community education program. Having represented people across this country that have suffered serious injuries caused by the negligent behavior of others we are constantly on the lookout for ways to avoid these injuries.
Today, I’d like to address lawnmower injuries, what they are, how serious they can be and how to avoid them. I recently read a study from the Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health that found that lawnmower injuries cause 80,000 Americans to seek treatment at hospital Emergency Departments every year. Approximately 9,500 of these injuries involved people under the age of 20 years and account for 51 percent of traumatic amputations among children. Another staggering number is, for children under the age of 10 years, for major limb loss the number one cause is lawnmower injuries.
The bad news is that lawnmower injuries are devastating and can cause serious injuries that include amputations and death. The good news is that they are easily preventable and with a little foresight no child should ever have to be injured by a lawn mower. On the average, homeowners mow their lawns 30 times per season and each time we set about the task we are engaging in very dangerous behavior. Lawnmower injuries are the most preventable of all dangerous activity. Acknowledging the danger and paying attention is critical to a safe outcome.
As I mentioned, young people under the age of 20 make up the main category of serious injuries and a simple step to prevent these injuries is to keep children inside while you are operating a lawnmower. The majority of serious injuries in lawnmower accidents are back-over injuries and flying objects, sticks, rocks and debris, propelled by the high-speed blades.
Children aged 2-5 are the class most regularly maimed by riding lawnmowers backing up with the cutting blades turning. These are the accidents that can be prevented and the best way to do so is to keep the kids in the house while you are mowing, keep your eyes out when you are operating the mower and purchase and use a riding lawnmower with a “No Mow In Reverse” (NMIR) safety feature. Most home commercial riding lawn mowers sold since 2004 feature this device but many commercial lawnmowers do not have it. If you pay a firm to mow your yard you need to secure your children while the task is being completed.
Along with protecting children, I want to note that injuries are also high in adults over the age of 60. An important thing to remember is that a gas powered lawnmower can throw an object 2100 feet at speeds upward of 200 mph. A rock flying at the speed of a bullet can do all sorts of damage the human body, causing blindness, skull and bone fractures and damage to internal organs. Even if you are well aware of the lay of your yard and have mowed it hundreds of times it’s a good idea to first walk the yard and pick up any rocks, sticks or other objects that could damage persons or property.
– Like any equipment, before you operate it, always read the lawnmower operation manual.
– Take a few minutes to clear the mowing area of objects including twigs, stones and kids toys that can be picked up and thrown by the lawnmower blades.
– Make sure that all children and adults are inside or away from the area that you are mowing before you turn on the mower.
– Fuel, start and refuel your lawnmowers outdoors, never in a garage or other closed area.
– Wear protective eyewear, hearing protection, long pants and close-toed shoes with hard soles.
– Mow in good weather conditions. Also stay hydrated and avoid mowing in high heat.
– Know your typography and do not use riding lawnmowers on steep hills or close to the edge of an embankment.
– Most new mowers have built in safety features. Only use mowers with automatic shutdown abilities, such as those with a control that stops motion when the handle is released or riding lawnmowers that shut off when the driver gets out of the seat.
– Your riding mower instructions will tell you that the unit is designed only for one operator. Never allow a child or other passenger to ride on a riding lawnmower with you.
– Do not operate a lawnmower if under the influence of alcohol or drugs that could cause impairment.
– When you shut down the mower wait a few seconds for blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, crossing gravel driveways or dismounting the mower.
Teaching Safe Lawnmowing Techniques
As a parent one of our main jobs is to teach our children the ways and the whys of having a safe and happy life. This rule especially applies to the use of dangerous equipment. In many families, the time when a son or daughter becomes old enough to take on the chore of mowing the lawn and gets to make some extra money is a right of passage.
You know your child, you have raised her and you will know if she has the maturity to take on such a task. If your child is going to operate the lawnmower, talk to her about the dangers, instruct her on the rules of safe operation, giving hands on instruction and supervise her work until you are sure that he or she can manage the task alone. Think of it this way, you would never give your car to a freshly licensed teen driver without having spent some time with them behind the wheel.
Safely Storing Your Lawnmower and Fuel
Always store your mower in a safe place. A safe place is somewhere that children don’t have access to it. It goes without saying that gasoline is a very dangerous flammable substance that must be handled with care. If you have a power lawnmower you will have to store gas to operate it and it’s always important to follow a few simple but critical storage rules.
Local and state fire codes typically restrict gas storage for home us to no more than 25 gallons. Always store the gas in containers of 5 gallons or less that have been specifically approved for gasoline. Approved containers will include a label or wording directly on the container that says it meets specifications for portable containers for petroleum products. Never store gas in unapproved or glass containers. Fill the containers no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion. And keep the cap tight on the container.
Where to store the container
Never store gasoline in a closed, unventilated, room that has an appliance with a pilot light or flames such as an electric or gas water heater, space heater or furnace. Modern codes requirements state that these devices must be on racks at least 18 inches from floor level because gas fumes will hug the floor below the eighteen-inch level. My suggestion is that you should store your gasoline in an outside shed or other convenient storage place rather than inside your home. Keep the stored gasoline out of the reach of children and if stored on a concrete floor place a piece of plywood underneath the container.
Just like anything else in life in the 21st Century, mowing your lawn is just another task on your things to do list. Too often people fail to take a minute and focus on the task at hand and ask themselves, is the mower fueled properly and in good working order, have I walked the area to be cut and removed any and all debris, are my children and grandchildren in the house. Are there neighbors, or their children out and about that might be within the 2000 foot range of flying objects and have I warned them that I will be cutting the lawn?
Taking a minute to follow these suggestions might well prevent a tragedy of epic proportions and save the life of another human being. Think safety and you will be safe.
The Miller Law Firm
The staff and lawyers at The Miller Law Firm hope that this article will be of some assistance to you. We would like to remind you that Phillip Miller is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, a designation that very few personal injury lawyers achieve. We are here to serve you and if you or a friend or loved one is seriously injured in a situation caused by the negligence of another you can call us for an absolutely free case review. It has been our experience that when a serious injury occurs it is essential to contact experienced accident lawyers so they can get their trained investigators on the job and give you the very best service available. Call us at 615-356-2000.
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