Prevent a Child Injury with Spring Lawn Care Safety Tips
Happy first day of spring! With temperatures warming up in the Pacific Northwest, the hum of lawnmowers cutting grass will become a common sound. There are several safety factors to consider before getting outside to care for your lawn: Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatrician Jacalyn Hazen, MD discusses spring lawn care safety tips that could help prevent a child injury.
Top spring lawn care safety tips
1. Look into chemical-free options for caring for your lawn
Often we can’t trust a flashy “green” or “natural” label on the front of a bottle to tell us that a product is chemical free and safe to use around kids. Read all ingredients before purchasing lawn care products and contact your local poison center about any questionable ingredients. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also a useful resource. Their website offers tips for caring for grass without any chemicals including the use of compost and mulched grass clippings as chemical-free fertilizers.
2. Stay off the lawn after applying pesticides and fertilizer
If you do choose to use pesticides and fertilizer, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and mark your lawn with a sign after application. At a minimum, keep children indoors until the lawn has dried.
3. Store pesticides safely to prevent a child injury
When people are exposed to pesticides they can cause all kinds of harm. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticide injury because of their lack of understanding about the danger. If you have kids in the home it is extremely important to store pesticides in sealed containers and out of reach of children. Exposure to pesticides can cause skin irritation and damage to the nervous system. If you notice the following symptoms after being exposed to a pesticide call your local poison center immediately: rash, changes in pupil function, vomiting, or change in mental status such as agitation.
4. Do not mow the lawn with young children outside or let them ride along
It is advised that children under the age of 6 remain indoors when the lawn is being mowed as there is a real risk of flying debris hurting the child. It is also dangerous to let a child ride on an adult’s lap on a riding mower or be towed in a trailer or wagon behind a mower.
5. Take time to train and supervise older kids who are tasked with mowing the lawn
The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines for children mowing lawns; do not let a child under the age of 12 use a push mower or a child under the age of 16 use a riding mower. Parents should also consider a child’s size, strength, coordination and maturity level. Take the time to train your child about how to use your mower and prepare the lawn for mowing by clearing small obstructions. Discuss safety issues with them and supervise their use for the first several times. Ensure that they are dressed appropriately with closed toed shoes and have them protect their eyes from flying debris with sunglasses or goggles.
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