According to the latest compiled reports lawnmower injuries sent more than 80,000 people to emergency rooms in 2015 alone, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and lawnmower injuries have been blamed for an average of 70 deaths annually.
According to the Commission the injuries range from people falling or slipping in front of or off a mower; burns; amputations from the blades; damage from projectiles thrown from the lawnmower; or, as was the case in Leesburg last weekend, rollovers.
According to Leesburg Police Investigator Jamie Chatman, the victim, who was identified by Cherokee County Coroner Dr. Jeremy Deaton as 62 year old William “Bill” Joseph Sullivan of a Lokey Street address, had been traveling on a John Deere Zero-Turn mower on JT Mackey Drive Saturday morning when he somehow lost control, and then went down a culvert with the mower landing on top of him; the official cause of death being blunt force trauma to the chest.
Dr. Deaton encourages everyone to exercise extreme caution when operating equipment on or near roadways and to consult with your owner’s manual on proper safety techniques for the particular equipment you’re operating, adding if your lawnmower has a roll bar, use it – even if you aren’t on a hill. Also, when using equipment on a highway its best to have some sort of reflective vest or emblem on your equipment and on yourself.
The Alabama Department of Public Health also offers the following safety advice:
- Children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a ride-on mower.
- Children should never be passengers on ride-on mowers.
- Always wear sturdy shoes while mowing – not sandals.
- Young children should be at a safe distance from the area you are mowing.
- Before mowing, pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
- Always wear eye and hearing protection.
- Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released.
- Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary – carefully look for others behind you when you do.
- Start and refuel mowers outdoors –not in a garage. Refuel with the motor turned off and cool.
- Blade settings should be set by an adult only.
- Wait for blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel roads.
- Avoid driving backwards unless absolutely required and should be exercised with extreme caution when necessary.
- When purchasing a lawn mower, look for machines that have a forward control mechanism that stops the machine from moving if the handle is released.
- Never use a riding lawnmower on slopes greater than 15 degrees or a 27% slope. This is almost the same as a drop of 3 feet over a distance of 10 feet.
- When mowing a slope with a riding lawnmower, mow up and down and only turn around on level ground at the top of bottom of a hill.