Interviewer: Lawnmower safety from an emergency room physician's perspective, that's next on The Scope.
Announcer: This is From the Front Lines with emergency room physician Dr. Troy Madsen on The Scope.
Interviewer: It's that time of year when you get the lawnmower out, and maybe this is even going to be the year where you let your kids mow the lawn for the first time. I know it's kind of like a transition into adulthood. But, you should really think about lawnmower safety. We're going to find out more about that right now from Dr. Troy Madsen. He's an emergency room physician at University of Utah Health.
I think most of us hear lawnmower safety and go, oh we're being safe. But, there are actually a couple of things that could surprise you. I'd also like to get your thoughts on what are some of the more common things that you see so people can avoid them.
Dr. Madsen: Sure. Yeah, you're exactly right. I think we all think well as long as I turn the lawnmower off I'm fine. I can adjust it. I can adjust the wheel height. I can get some lawn out from the blade that's stuck there. This is one of these things where it is a little bit deceptive. I have seen cases of this. It's rare, but we've talked about snowblowers before and snow getting stuck in there and someone sticking their hand in there and the blade taking off a finger. Same things happen with lawnmowers.
Sometimes you can get that lawn that'll build up in there, maybe some wet lawn, long grass that's built up around the blade. You reach in there to try and pull that grass out and that blade will flip even though the motor is off, it's not running. I have seen cases where it at least cuts the finger or takes a finger off. That's one of these things that's surprising where we think, "Hey, I know what to do," but it still happens.
Interviewer: Yeah. What are some other things that you would say about lawnmower safety especially . . . I mean I think we need to think about it a little differently if we're having our kids mow the lawn for the first time from the perspective that we kind of take all these safety things for granted. We have to teach them to kids.
Dr. Madsen: Sure, yeah. I think first of all before you get the lawnmower out it's worth getting it checked out. At least look over it yourself. Make sure all the nuts and bolts are tightened down, that a blade's not going to flip off or anything crazy like that.
Then, with kids, you've got to think about leg protection. You can have rocks that flip up from lawnmowers hit you in the leg. It can cause issues. You've got to think about eye protection as well, maybe stuff that we even don't pay too much attention to when we're doing it ourselves. It's your kid. Make sure you're careful there. There's always a potential for eye injuries, leg injuries, things like that.
Interviewer: I think another good thing maybe is just, besides what you said where that blade can flip back, never ever leave a lawnmower running and go in to do any sorts of adjustments like adjusting the height of the lawnmower platform or anything like that.
Dr. Madsen: Yeah, that's exactly right. It can be deceptive. Someone might see some parts of the lawnmower that look like there's no contact with a blade there. They might kind of reach under adjusting a wheel height and have something hit their hand. You've got to make sure you're careful there.
Again, I think the most common thing would be rocks and things like that that get flipped by the blade that may hit a person in the leg, maybe stuff that kicks up and gets in their eye. The uncommon thing, kind of the crazy thing we see, is some of these finger injuries that occasionally come in after trying to reach under there even with the mower off.
Interviewer: Yeah, and also probably supervise even though you're teaching responsibility, because I've seen some YouTube videos of people doing things with lawnmowers that you wouldn't . . . kids explore. They want to try and see what it would look like for themselves. It could be very dangerous.
Dr. Madsen: Oh, it can be. I don't know, as a kid, I remember mowing the lawn. I don't know how many sprinkler heads I hit. You probably want to supervise just for that reason alone. Look for some rocks around the yard. Make sure all that stuff's out of the way before you send your kid out there.
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