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Safe Kids Carroll County: Tips to avoid riding mower injuries

While homeowners generally use walk-behind power lawnmowers to cut small plots of grass, many residents with large lawns have come to rely on riding mowers, lawn tractors, and garden tractors as a must for maintaining the landscape.

Zero turn radius mowers are now available at many retail power equipment outlets. A zero turn radius mower can rotate 180 degrees and move away on the same path that it came in on. This enables homeowners to mow close to landscaping and buildings. Aside from cutting large areas of grass, some machines also accommodate a host of attachments to make quick work of otherwise cumbersome garden projects.

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Hazards most often associated with riding equipment are blade contact and loss of stability. Safe Kids Carroll County warns residents on some of the dangers. The

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 34,000 consumer injuries related to riding mowers incidents were treated annually in hospital emergency rooms during 2010-2012. An annual average of about 90 deaths was attributed to riding mowers during 2007-2009. Fatal incidents have several common patterns: the machine tips over, the rider falls under or is run over by the machine (incidents involving young children are in this category), or the person is thrown from or falls off the machine.

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Please follow all safety guidelines of your mower and other landscaping equipment.

1. Read, understand, and follow all instructions on the mower and in the manual(s) before starting.

2. Do not put hands or feet near rotating parts or under the machine. Keep clear of the moving parts at all times.

3. Only allow responsible adults, who are familiar with the instructions, to operate any landscaping tools.

4. Clear the area of objects such as rocks, wire, toys, etc., which could be thrown by the blade(s).

5. Never carry children on your lap or to ride with you on the mower.

6. Do not mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary. Always look down and behind before and while backing.

7. Disengage blade(s) when not mowing. Shut off engine and wait for all parts to come to a complete stop before cleaning the machine, removing the grass catcher, or unclogging the discharge area.

8. Wear appropriate closed–toe shoes when mowing.

Keep yourself and your children safe this summer, for more information visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov.

Maggie Rauser is the Carroll County Health Department’s Safe Kids coordinator.

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