Lawn Mower Safety for Children and Families

Father and son mowing lawn in backyard

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Although the leading causes of unintentional child deaths include car crashes, drownings, poisonings, fires, falls and gun accidents, there are many hidden dangers that parents are less aware of that can lead to injury and worse. Common chores, like mowing the lawn, may put your child at risk if safety practices aren't followed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that about 9,000 children require care in the emergency room each year because of lawn mower related injuries.

Lawn Mower Safety

Lawn mowers are a useful tool, but they are also dangerous machines. Curious kids—especially young kids who don’t yet understand how dangerous lawn mowers can be—can get underfoot before you’ve had a chance to see or hear them.

You can keep yourself and your kids safe while mowing the lawn by following some basic precautions. 

  • Be careful on hills: If riding, move up and down to lessen the risk of tipping. If pushing, mow sideways across the hill to avoid slipping under the mower.
  • Clear the yard: Before you mow, do a sweep of the yard. Send kids inside. Pick up sticks, rocks, and anything else that may fly through the air and injure someone. 
  • Do a safety check: Make sure your lawn mower is operating as it should and that any bags and guards are attached properly before you begin mowing.
  • Dress appropriately: Wear closed-toed shoes, safety goggles, and ear protection.
  • Go slow: Going at a slower pace offers more control and will allow you more time to react if something unexpected darts out at you. 
  • Keep kids away: Make sure your kids understand the importance of staying inside and away from the lawn mower when you are using it.
  • Only mow dry grass: Wet grass is slippery and can lead to falls and accidents.
  • Power the mower safely: If electric, make sure your mower is plugged into a ground fault circuit. If gas, make sure the engine is cool before fueling.

Kids and Lawn Mowers

According to the AAP, kids should be at least 12 years old to operate a walk-behind mower and they should be at least 16 to use a ride-on mower. Of course, kids have different maturity levels, so in addition to minimum age guidelines, consider your child’s level of maturity. 

Once you determine that your child is old enough, responsible enough, and strong enough to maneuver a lawn mower safely, take some time to show them the ropes. Your child should understand not only how to operate the lawn mower, but also how to keep themselves safe while mowing the lawn. 

Go over the mechanics and expectations for safety while teaching your child to mow the lawn. Be sure to supervise them at first until you’re certain they’ve got the hang of it.

Keep young kids inside when you mow the lawn and never let a child ride on your lap while you use a ride-on mower.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Lawn mower safety. Updated June 18, 2018. 

Additional Reading
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Steer Children Clear of Lawn Mover Injuries.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Technical Report. Lawn Mower-Related Injuries to Children Pediatrics. Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001, p. e106
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission. Riding Lawnmowers. Document #588.