Mower injuries a summer hazard

April 21, 2006|By FRANK D. ROYLANCE | FRANK D. ROYLANCE,SUN REPORTER

The drone of lawn mowers is one of the most familiar sounds of summer. But researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say the buzz also signals a growing health hazard.

Nearly 80,000 Americans sought emergency room treatment in 2004 for mower-related injuries, according to statistics drawn from two national databases. The most common (13 percent) are "penetrating trauma" caused by rocks and other debris hurled by mower blades at speeds of up to 160 mph. The most likely to be injured are children younger than 15 and adults age 60 and older.

"If children younger than 15 years were not allowed to ride or play near lawn mowers, these injuries would not occur," the authors concluded in their study, published in this month's online edition of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The authors were Dr. David Bishai, an associate professor in Bloomberg's department of population and family health, along with intern Vanessa Costilla.

The most common injuries requiring hospitalization - 67 percent - were foot bones broken by flying debris and toes lost to spinning blades, the study found.

The authors recommend that no one younger than 12 operate a push mower, and that no one younger than 16 use a riding mower. They also said injuries can be reduced if mower operators wear goggles, nonskid, closed-toe shoes and long pants, and clear the yard of debris before mowing.

frank.roylance@baltsun.com

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