Summer tips for safe mowing

Summer’s here, and with it the smell of freshly cut lawn on a Saturday afternoon – but the relaxed atmosphere makes it easy to forget how dangerous lawnmowers can be, especially if you’re tempted to have a couple of cold beers while you mow.

Says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group: ”Mowers can and do throw up stones and other hard objects that can cut shins and damage eyes, and whirring blades can easily slice fingers and toes if you don’t bring them to a standstill before emptying the grassbox. And with electric models, there’s always the danger of cutting the cable and getting a severe shock.”

So unless you are going to opt for an energy-saving (and body-building) push mower, it is worth bearing the following safety tips in mind:

* Dress properly. Wear sturdy shoes and long pants. Don’t wear flip-flops, shorts or baggy clothes that could get caught in the blade. Protect your eyes with safety glasses or goggles.

* Guard your ears. A petrol mower can exceed 85 decibels, enough to cause permanent hearing loss over time. Earmuff-style headphones or tight-fitting earplugs significantly reduce the danger.

* Clear the area. Go over the lawn and pick up all toys, sticks, stones, dishes, dog bones and anything else that could be shredded or flung by the blade. Then clear the lawn of children, so they won’t run in the mower’s path and you won’t be distracted from focusing on safe mowing by their noise or activity. Make sure you know the positions of hidden obstacles, such as sprinkler heads and stumps.

* Know your machine. Read the instruction manual and follow it. Also don’t disable any safety devices such as blade guards, even if they annoy you; each safeguard was invented because someone got hurt. And never attempt to free a jammed blade without first removing the spark plug on a petrol mower or unplugging an electric mower.

* Ride alone. Don’t carry children (or anyone else) on a ride-on mower. The mower can tip or children can fall off. And if you teach children to think of the machine as fun, they may be tempted to try to ride it themselves when you are not around. Be super-careful when reversing to ensure that there is no-one behind you.

* Don’t let kids mow. Mowers are hazardous items of equipment, not toys. Children under 12 should not operate a walk-behind mower and no-one under 16 should use a ride-on mower.

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