Amputations, lacerations, burn injuries, fractures – these are among the most common injuries people suffer when mowing their lawns, according to a recently published study.
Analyzing data from a federal government database of emergency room visits, researchers found that 51,151 people in the U.S. were injured while mowing their lawns from 2006 to 2013. Of those injuries, nearly half (23,907) involved serious lacerations and nearly a quarter (11,013) resulted in the amputation of some body part.
Injuries to the eyes and face accounted for 1 percent of the emergency room visits and about 200 people suffered burn injuries that were serious enough to require emergency treatment.
The study, published in the journal Public Health Reports, found that men accounted for most of these lawn mowing injuries. But surprisingly, children younger than 4 years old were more likely than older people to suffer an amputation injury. According to The New York Times, the study’s authors speculate that the child injuries occur when a child approaches a family member mowing the lawn or falls off the lap of a person driving a riding lawn mower.
While children accounted for a minority of the total injuries, their injuries tended to be more severe, the study found.
“We’ve learned that well-meaning adults are not aware of the danger, and that kids wind up with an amputation of an entire foot or part of a leg,” said Dr. Deborah Schwengel, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study, according to The New York Times.
Eighty-five percent of the injured patients were released after treatment. The remaining 15 percent remained hospitalized for an average of two days or were sent to another facility, such as a nursing home or rehabilitation center for continued treatment.
The average emergency room visit cost $2,482 while the average cost of an inpatient hospital stay was $37,000. All in all, lawn mower injuries cost $36 million a year.
But of course the highest costs are to those who are left with lifelong, debilitating injuries. Dr. Schwengel told The New York Times that the development of safer lawn mowers is the key to preventing these injuries.
“We’re working with university engineering departments, and our hope is to create lawn mowers that are smart enough so that no one gets their foot or hand chopped off.”