If you’re a homeowner in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland or other parts of the Bay Area, you have no doubt been busy mowing the lawn this summer. With such a steady year-round climate, grass grows quickly in this part of California, especially during the warmer months of the year. With all that fresh grass growth, you’re using a lawn mower more often, so it’s important to recognize the potential dangers that come with its operation and follow some life-saving safety tips.
The Truth About Lawn Mower Injuries
This may come as a shock, but there were more than 234,000 people treated in the United States due to lawn mower injuries during 2012 alone. While that number includes children, teenagers and adults, 17,900 of those injured in 2012 were kids under the age of 19. Approximately one-third of all lawn mower-related injuries are serious enough to be treated in an emergency department. The frightening reality is that lawn mower injuries are on the rise, climbing up another 3 percent from last year.
When you start to think about all the ways you could sustain an injury from a lawn mower, it can become mind boggling. However, most lawn mower injuries are actually caused by something very simple and preventable…a brief operator distraction. For the most part, lawn mower operators become momentarily distracted by something and, in an instance, an injury occurs. The second most common cause of lawn mower injuries is improper operation, such as allowing two people to sit on a riding lawn mower.
How Do Lawn Mowers Pose a Danger?
When operators are distracted or improperly using the lawn mower, the action normally places your fingertips, hands and feet in the danger zone. This is because of the standard rotary blade located on the bottom side of your mower. This blade spins at a high rate of speed, cutting anything that gets in its way and ejecting debris from underneath the mower.
To generate the same amount of energy as a mower’s spinning metal rotary blade, you could drop a 21 pound weight from a window that is 100 feet off the ground. Imagine the injury it would cause if you were to be standing underneath that falling 21 pound weight. If that doesn’t tell you how dangerous a mower can be, consider this: The spinning rotary blade of a mower puts out three times the energy of a bullet fired from a .357 Magnum pistol and the spinning motion of the blade can eject debris from underneath the mower at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. How’s that for dangerous?
In addition, when you use a riding lawn mower on unstable or uneven ground, the mower may tip over and crush you in the process. Riding lawn mower accidents like these can usually be avoided if the mower is equipped with a rollover protection system, such as a roll bar or lap restraint. Unfortunately, many riding lawn mowers do not come equipped with rollover safety protection. Even though these safety devices could prevent accidents and injuries, manufacturers often choose to save money and skimp on safety.
Safety Tips for Using Lawn Mowers
While mowing the lawn seems like an everyday, routine thing, it’s easy to forget just how dangerous a lawn mower really can be. In order to keep you and your family safe, follow these safety tips while mowing:
- Read, understand and follow the lawn mower operator’s manual and safety instructions.
- Make sure that children are indoors or at a safe distance from the area that you are mowing.
- Never mow when the grass is wet or the weather is bad.
- Before you begin mowing, be sure to clear any debris from the yard, such as stones or twigs, as they can be ejected at high speeds by the mower blade.
- Never, ever let children ride as passengers on ride-on lawn mowers.
- Wear closed-toe shoes with good soles, properly fitting clothes, safety goggles and hearing protection while mowing.
- Keep your mind on the task at hand.
Lawn mowers are not toys. They need to be used with extreme caution because every year, in far too many Bay Area neighborhoods, people are operating mowers in an unsafe manner. If you or a loved one has been injured in a lawn mower accident, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney. At the Law Office of Nelson Barry, we’re ready to listen and help you determine the best way to proceed legally. Call us today at (415) 587-0550 and schedule your free consultation.