April 21, 2023

Knowing a child’s age and maturity level key to safe lawn mowing

Madison, Wis. – Every year in the United States more than 9,000 children go to the emergency department for lawn mower-related injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Lawn mowers are dangerous machines with blades that spin hundreds of miles an hour and injuries can happen in a split second when the person mowing is distracted, according to Dr. Ken Noonan, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, UW Health Kids, professor of orthopedics, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Injuries can range from minor cuts and burns on fingertips, hands, arms, legs and feet to life and limb-threatening if a child is run over by a lawn mower, he said.

“These injuries can be life-altering, and no one expects it to happen to them, but it can,” Noonan said. “Mowing lawns can be an important part of growing up for a child, but they should be age appropriate and well-trained.”

There are three recommended ages to keep in mind when it comes to lawn mowing. If a child is younger than 6 years old, the child should be in the house when the lawn is being mowed, at age 12 and older they can use a push mower and by age 16 they can use a riding mower, Noonan said.

“Every kid develops differently so it is important to know their strength and maturity level, but those ages are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as a tool to help kids and families stay safe,” he said.

Lawn mowers are the number one cause of amputation in children younger than 10 in the United States, according to Noonan.

“Every year we see these lawn mower injuries at American Family Children’s Hospital and parents will say they were distracted for just a moment,” he said. “It is important to know where your children are at all times while mowing.”

Noonan also says parents should teach children that lawn mowers are not toys and never allow a child to ride as a passenger on a riding lawn mower.