More attention needs to be paid to lawn mower safety this year, according to the Amputee Coalition of America, Knoxville, Tenn, which notes that needless limb loss accidents can be prevented by taking commonsense precautions.

Depending on where you live, you may mow your lawn 30 times or more this year. Every time you start your mower, you are dealing with a dangerous and potentially deadly piece of equipment. By following a few safety measures before you mow, you can avoid life-altering accidents, says the organization.

Lawn mower accidents cause serious injuries to legs, arms, fingers, toes, and other body parts. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200,000 people—around 16,000 of them under age 19—were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2007. More than 600 children undergo amputations each year as the result of lawn mower-related injuries. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.

The Coalition offers these safety guidelines:
· Never allow children to play on a lawn mower, even if it is turned off.
· Never allow a child to ride on a riding lawn mower with you.
· Keep your children indoors and do not allow other children to play nearby while you are mowing.
· Children should be at least 12 years old before operating any lawn mower and at least 16 years old to operate a riding mower.

This checklist is based on information from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
_____ Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
_____ Wear shoes, not sandals.
_____ Use eye and hearing protection.
_____ Start and refuel mowers outdoors, never in a garage.
_____ Refuel with the motor turned off and cool.
_____ Blade settings—adults only!

_____ Only use mowers with automatic shut-down abilities, such as those with a control that stops motion when the handle is released.
_____ Don’t mow in reverse unless necessary, and watch out for others.

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

The  Coalition is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is “to reach out to and empower people affected by limb loss to achieve their full potential through education, support and advocacy, and to promote limb loss prevention.”

[Source: Amputee Coalition]