June is National Safety Month and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) have teamed up to educate parents, adults, and children about the importance of lawn mower safety.

“Physicians in plastic surgery, microsurgery, pediatric surgery, and orthopedics are at the forefront in repairing these injuries and see, firsthand, how devastating they can be for children and their families,” says ASPS President Bruce Cunningham, MD. “It is equally important for us to aid in the prevention of these injuries as it is to repair them.”

The ASRM, ASPS, AAP, and AAOS offer the following tips to help prevent lawn mower-related injuries:

• children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a ride-on mower;

•children should never be passengers on ride-on mowers;

•always wear sturdy shoes while mowing—not sandals;

• young children should be at a safe distance from the area you are mowing;

•before mowing, pick up stones, toys, and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects;

• always wear eye and hearing protection;

•use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released;

•never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary—carefully look for others behind you when you do;

•start and refuel mowers outdoors—not in a garage and refuel them with the motor turned off and cooled down;

•blade settings should be made by an adult only; and

•wait for blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel roads.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 230,500 people were treated in doctors’ offices, clinics, and emergency rooms for lawn mower-related injuries in 2004.

[www.plasticsurgery.org, June 1, 2006]