As your child reaches the preteen years, you may be getting regular requests about ways to earn some cash. One possibility involves letting your youngster take on some lawn care tasks. You must be certain he or she is responsible enough to follow safety instructions if using a powered push mower is part of the project. To you, lawn mower safety procedures may seem like common sense, but every year, thousands of people need medical treatment for injuries that happened while working with a lawn mower.
Some 200,000 Americans received medical treatment for injuries involving lawn mower use in 2010. That's an important statistic to impress upon your preteen, along with some other disturbing facts. Emergency room personnel see patients with facial cuts and other lacerations, eye injuries, burns, broken bones and even amputated fingers, toes, hands or feet—all caused by unsafe use of a lawn mower.
Strategies to Prevent Injury
Teach your youngster essential strategies to prevent being hurt while cutting the grass, and to prevent others from getting hurt.
- Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and long pants.
- Clean up debris on the lawn before mowing. Small rocks and branches can become hazardous projectiles if struck by a mower blade.
- Never jimmy-rig the safety bar so it stays attached to the handle if the person lets go. People are tempted to do this because restarting the equipment is a hassle, but it's dangerous.
- Don't let a younger sibling or neighborhood kid try pushing the mower. It's not a toy.
- Only move the mower forward, not backward. It's risky to pull the device toward one's feet.
- Don't cut the grass when it's wet. Not only is the lawn slippery, the blades don't do a very good job on wet grass.
An especially important piece of advice for the preteen is to never try to fix a problem with the equipment under any circumstances, even if it's not running. Let your child know you won't get mad if it appears that he or she has broken the mower. Fixing it should be left to you.
If you've determined that your youngster is ready to start cutting the grass and doing other yard care tasks, set up a regular schedule for these projects. If you think it's still too soon, consider hiring a professional lawn care service (such as Valley Green Companies) if you have trouble fitting these tasks into your own schedule. Your child can learn a great deal about equipment safety by watching the pros.