Maintaining a nice looking, neatly trimmed, nourished and healthy lawn is something most homeowners take very seriously. These same proud owners also take the safety of their children very seriously as well. It’s unfortunate that too often we hear of the disastrous results that occur when child care and lawn care come together.
Unfortunately year after year far too many children become the victims of lawn mower injuries, and the truly sad part is the vast majority of these injuries were completely avoidable. Most often the accident is the result of the careless nature of the way a child is operating the lawn mower.
When are children old enough to use a lawn mower?
As previously stated, each and every year there are many accidents involving children and lawn mowers. It is, for this reason, lawn mowers come with age restrictions. For a riding lawn mower the legal age limit is 16, and for a walk behind lawn mower, the legal age limit is 12 years old.
Beyond the legalities, you should also consider the maturity level of your child before allowing them to operate a lawn mower.
Some things your teens and pre-teens should be clear about before running a lawn mower.
First and foremost teach them that safety comes first. You’ll want to ensure your child has a clear understanding of the basic safety standards that go along with operating a mower. Don’t be one of those parents that mistakenly think that just because your child is of the legal age to run a lawn mower they can automatically do so successfully. Take the time to teach them proper safety habits and procedures.
Here are some safety rules to follow when it comes to operating a lawn mower:
- There should never, ever be any horseplay when running a lawn mower. You must make sure the child grasps the reality that a lawn mower is not a toy and can cause them severe harm.
- Ensure that smaller children do not come anywhere near the mower while it’s in use.
- Do not use the mower when the weather is bad. Inclement weather includes conditions such as thunderstorms and heavy winds.
- Don’t mow grass that’s wet.
- Only mow when there’s plenty daylight.
- Before starting to mow pick up any and all debris like fallen tree branches, rocks and toys.
- Don’t put small children on a riding lawn mower under any circumstances.
Further safety precautions you’ll want to go over include being clear about what conditions the mower should always be turned off. These will be:
- Anytime you’re going over a gravel road or path.
- When the grass catcher needs to be removed.
- When the lawn mower’s discharge chute needs to be unclogged.
- Anytime it’s necessary to leave the mower unattended, even if it’s only for just a few seconds
Just as a reminder, for a riding lawn mower it’s legal at 16 years old, and for a walk behind mower, the legal age is 12.
Of course the first few times your child takes on the task of mowing the yard you’ll want to be sure to closely supervise their activity to ensure that follow the previously gone over safety precautions. You should continue to do so until you’re completely confident in the child’s ability to handle the responsibility alone.
Ongoing maintenance is essential if your plan is to have a good looking yard, and with responsible guidance and supervision, it’s something your children can help with safely.