Each spring and summer news stations broadcast stories about lawn mower accidents. Some accidents involve children while others happen to the adults driving or pushing the lawn mower. All serious accidents caused by lawn mowers are tragic because they could have been avoided.
The five accidents described here are particularly scary because they could happen to anyone, but there is no reason that any of them should have happened.
In an article on the rise of lawn mower injuries, Consumer Reports recounts the story of Timothy Strobel. On the first sunny day after a rainy patch, Strobel decided to mow his lawn while he had the opportunity. The lawn was still somewhat wet. Strobel found the mower stuck in the mud only minutes into his mowing. He then pulled as hard as he could to remove the mower from the patch of mud. He apparently slipped in the mud or on the wet grass, and fell back hard onto a window air conditioner. The impact knocked Strobel unconscious. When he woke, he could not move his arms or legs. Doctors determined that Strobel had suffered a severe concussion and a spinal cord injury. Timothy Strobel has largely recovered from his injuries. Although his injuries are not representative of lawn mower injuries, they serve as an example of the many dangers associated with mowing.
Willie Werling, a groundskeeper at a Waterloo, Illinois golf course, took a fatal wrong turn while driving a mowing machine. Deviating from the course’s cart path, Werling drove the mower down a hill. The mower rolled over on Willie Werling, who died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Deanna McKay, a 911 operator in Albany, Oregon, took a horrific call one afternoon. Her son Colton, 8, was calling for help. Colton had just run over his brother Taylor, 7, with a lawn mower. Deanna’s husband Craig came on the line to explain what had happened. Colton had begged to ride the new riding lawn mower. Craig had consented, and set Taylor in a wagon behind the mower. The mower, driven by Colton, spun out on wet grass. When Colton pushed in the clutch, the trailer jack-knifed and threw Taylor out. The lawn mower than ran over Taylor, cutting his abdomen open. Miraculously, Taylor lived. After 14 surgeries in 14 months, Taylor has mostly recovered from his ordeal. Taylor was very lucky.
An unidentified man in Kungsbacka, Sweden, was eviscerated by a lawn mower after it toppled over and he fell under it. Authorities surmised that the man was trimming the edges of a grassy area next to an underpass and drove onto an area too steep for the mower. The mower tipped over and fell down the slope. The man fell with the mower, and was trapped underneath it. The mower blade continued turning, fatally injuring the man.
Steep slopes are a common lawn mower problem, and can cause death in a variety of ways. G. Neil Magann, a groundskeeper, drove too close to the edge of a pond when the lawn mower toppled, pinning him underneath in the pond. Unable to get out of the pond, Magann drowned. (http://www.fox13now.com/news/local/kstu-man-killed-in-lawn-mower-accident-at-stansbury-park-20110624,0,6562432.story)
All of these lawn mower accidents could have been prevented. Almost all mowing accidents are preventable. Here are a few ways to prevent accidents with lawn mowers.
- Never mow wet grass.
- If the lawn mower becomes stuck (as in Timothy Stobel’s accident) turn the mower off. Never try to shift a running mower.
- Avoid steep slopes (the cause of Willie Werling’s accident, as well as G. Neil Magann and the unidentified man in Sweden). This cannot be overemphasized. Riding lawn mowers will turn over on steep slopes. Use a riding mower only on level ground.
- Do not allow children under 12 to operate any mower (as in Taylor McKay’s accident). No child under 16 should ever operate a riding lawn mower.
- Do not allow children to ride as passengers on riding lawn mowers for any reason.
- Wear closed-toed shoes when operating a lawn mower.
- Keep children a safe distance from the lawn mower at all times.
- Remove any debris, including stones, sticks or children’s toys, from the lawn before mowing. Flying objects can cause injury or death.
- Never operate a mower in reverse without carefully checking for children, pet or obstructions.
- Wear eye protection, as well as hearing protection, while operating a lawn mower.
- Realize that a lawn mower can be a deadly piece of machinery. Understand how it operates and how to operate it safely before mowing.
- Tragic lawn mower accidents should never happen. Knowing these rules of the road for mowing will ensure that they do not.
Ralph Helm Inc is a proud dealer of eco-friendly outdoor power equipment from popular brands like Stihl and Toro. For more information lawn mower safety and money saving coupons visit us online at www.ralphhelminc.com, call or visit us at any of our two convenient locations: Elgin, IL (815) 788-1616 and Crystal Lake, IL (847) 695-1616
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