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How Lawn Mowers Work

Lawn Mower Safety and Maintenance

Every year, 75,000 Americans suffer injuries from mowing the lawn. Nearly 10,000 of the victims are children [source: University of Michigan]. A majority of those injuries come from flying rocks and debris hitting unprotected legs and faces.

Another 22 percent of injuries happen to the hands, fingers and arms and are caused when interacting with a mower blade that hasn't stopped spinning. Some of the most serious injuries are tied to riding mowers, which combine horsepower, weight and size into a potentially dangerous package.

Preventing injury to children involves following a few easy safety tips. First, make sure children aren't in the same area as a running lawn mower, whether it's a walk-behind or riding variety. Second, don't let anyone under age 16 operate a riding mower, and don't let children ride as passengers.

Before operating a lawn mower, make sure the area to be mowed is free of loose objects, such as sticks, stones and other yard debris. But just to be safe, never operate a lawn mower without wearing full-length pants and shoes. Some safety advocates recommend wearing steel-toed work shoes and safety goggles when mowing lawns.

Making sure that the engine and blade have come to a complete stop before making any adjustments to the lawn mower or inserting hands or tools inside the mower is another way to prevent injury.

And finally, keeping a lawn mower in good working condition helps promote safety and saves money by extending the machine's lifespan. Here are a few tips for proper maintenance:

  • Keep a clean machine. Remove debris from the engine screen after every use, and clean the mower deck. Change air filters after every 25 hours of operation. Change the oil after every 50 hours of operation. Replace spark plugs after 100 hours of use.
  • Use the right gas. Only use fresh gasoline, and make sure you use two-cycle gas for a two-cycle engine and four-cycle gas for a four-cycle engine.
  • Respect the blade. Make sure your blade is on tight, that its cutting edges are regularly sharpened and that it's balanced properly.