Every year, more than 80,000 people are injured in lawnmower-related injuries. The care for those patients tops more than $50 million annually. And in many cases these types of injuries could be prevented.

Dr. Peter Cole, Chief of Orthopaedics at Regions Hospital, believes society needs to do a better job educating the public about lawnmower safety.

“We see lawnmower injuries every summer,” Dr. Cole said. “For me, they are the saddest cases because not only are these injuries gruesome, but often it’s a dad who is operating the lawnmower and I can identify with that.”

Lawnmower injuries tend to spike in two age groups, from 2 to 4 years old and 13 to 15 years old. Injuries can occur when a child gets into the path of the mower, when they are struck by debris or when they touch hot metal. And some of the most severe cases, a small child can get to close to the machine causing them to get sucked into the blade path.

Here are some tips that every family should know:

  • Keep children and pets indoors while mowing
  • Clear the lawn before you start mowing
  • Don’t allow a child to ride with you on a riding mower
  • Wear closed-toe shoes, close-fitting clothing and glasses or goggles
  • Don’t pull a mower backwards or drive in reverse

One of the common questions is when is your child ready to take on the chore of mowing the lawn. That question depends on a lot of variables including your child’s maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has these recommendations.

  • 12 or older to operate a walk-behind mower
  • 16 or older to operate a riding mower

Read more about the miraculous recovery of a Princeton boy whose lower leg and foot were run over by a riding lawnmower in 2013.