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Don’t Lose Your Green Thumb

Spring is here and soon many Utahans will be out mowing their lawns and enjoying the aroma of fresh cut grass.  But before you fire up the engine of your lawn chariot, a few refresher tips will help keep your spring yard dreams from becoming nightmares.
 
In 2013, about 253,000 people were treated for lawnmower-related injuries; nearly 17,000 of those involved children under age 19, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Close to 22 percent of lawnmower injuries include the hands, fingers or wrists.  Most people don’t remember that the lawnmower has the potential to inflict serious bodily injuries, even life altering injuries.  Why don’t they remember?  Because the lawnmower is widely used and people have become desensitized to the dangers that accompany it.  This is similar to farmers and ranchers becoming complacent around the machinery they use every day.  It is used much of the time and doesn’t appear to be a threat.
 
Due to this attitude of complacency, many believe they don’t need to review the owner’s manual because they are already familiar with the machine.  It is always a good idea to re-read the owner’s manual prior to seasonal use.  Also, conduct routine inspections on the equipment you are using to verify it is in good condition and can perform its function safely.
 
Here are some helpful tips from A. J. Ferguson, Vice President of Farm Safety, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, that will hopefully keep you safe this spring and summer while mowing your lawn:
·         Read the owner’s manual.
·         Remove all debris from the yard before mowing, helping to prevent projectiles which can cause injuries.
·         Never leave a running lawn mower unattended.
·         Operators should wear protective clothing including long pants, steel-toed boots or other sturdy shoes, goggles, and ear protection.
·         While mowing, keep children out of the yard and in a supervised area to avoid injuries.
·         Children should never ride as a passenger on a lawn mower. 
·         Avoid mowing on wet grass as you could easily slip and fall under the mower.
·         Be sure all safety guards are in place.
·         Keep hands and feet away from moving parts.
·         The engine can be hot after use and thus cause severe burns if touched or bumped.
·         Make repairs and adjustments while the engine is off.
·         Always start and operate the mower outside.
·         The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children not operate a mower until they are 16 years old.
Some additional tips are provided by Subodh Kulkarni, University of Arkansas:
·         If your electric mower isn’t labeled “double insulated,” never plug it into anything but a grounded (3 prong) outlet.
·         Adjust cutting height before starting mower.
·         Never run mower over gravel, stones, or hard immovable objects like pipes, rocks or sidewalk edges.
·         Mow advancing forward whenever possible so you can see where you are going.
·         Keep electric mower cord out of the cutting path.
·         Stay clear of the blade housing and the discharge chute.
·         Never point discharge chute at others.
·         Keep the power cord of an electric mower in near-new condition.
·         Treat gasoline like the volatile fuel it really is.

Safety practices are just common sense—but we often need reminders.  Take a few minutes to review these safety suggestions at the beginning of each mowing season. 

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