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Important safety advice for mowing your lawn

July 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's such a routine task, many people don't realize how dangerous mowing a lawn can be if you don't take precautions. Every year, emergency rooms treat some 90,000 people for mowing injuries.

Timothy Strobel didn't realize the risk he'd encounter when he tried to mow his lawn after days of heavy rain. His mower got stuck in the mud near an air conditioning unit.

"I leaned forward to pull the lawn mower out of the grass, and I slammed my forehead and my neck into the actual unit itself," he recalled.

Dr. Andrew Peretz, who treated Strobel for a severe concussion and a spinal cord injury, says accidents involving lawn mowers are almost always serious.

"We've seen the traumatic injuries of the hand getting stuck in the blades, the foot getting stuck in the blades. Unfortunately those are life-changing events," said Dr. Peretz.

Consumer Reports' mowing expert Peter Sawchuk says blades on today's mowers can exceed 200 miles per hour and hurl objects 100 feet or more. That's why it's so important to keep kids and pets well away from where you're mowing.

A survey by Consumer Reports National Research Center reveals all too many people have bad mowing habits.

"More than half of those surveyed wore shorts while mowing, and 14 percent wore flip-flops," said Sawchuk.

Another really bad habit is drinking beer or other alcohol, which eight percent admitted to doing. Consumer Reports also cautions against disabling safety features, such as a handle that automatically shuts off the mower when you let go of it. Another precaution to avoid slips and falls, don't mow wet grass.

Consumer Reports says there are other important precautions. To avoid burns, be sure to let your mower cool down before adding fuel or cleaning it. And before you start to mow, pick up stones, twigs and anything else you see on the lawn.

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