May 30 (UPI) -- A new study found lawn mower injuries in children are more common than previously thought -- with up to 4,800 children injured each year by lawn mowers.
Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that while there has been a decrease in the number of injuries to children by lawn mowers, they are still a cause for concern with an average of 13 children being treated at the emergency room for lawn mower injuries each year.
"While we are happy to see that the number of lawn mower-related injuries has declined over the years, it is important for families to realize that these injuries still occur frequently during warm weather months," Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said in a press release. "Improvements in lawn mower design during the last few decades are likely an important contributing factor in the decrease in injuries. We would like to see manufacturers continue to improve design and include additional needed safety features on all mowers."
Younger children under the age of 5 are more likely to be injured by touching the hot surface of the mower with 15 percent burn injuries. Younger children were also more likely to have back-over injuries or bystander/passenger injuries.
The most common types of injuries were cuts, making up 39 percent of all lawn mower-related injuries. Children between age 5 and 17 were more likely to be struck or cut by the lawn mower or a projectile.
Researchers urge preventive measures to protect against lawn mower injuries, including safety lessons and supervising teens while operating them. Children should be at least 12 to use a push mower, experts say, and 16 to operate a ride-on lawn mower.
Children should also not be passengers on ride-on lawn mowers, with children younger than 6 staying indoors when a lawn mower is being used. Automatic safety measures built-in to lawn mowers are the best way to prevent injuries, according to researchers.
Some examples of safety measures include shields to keep hands and feet from getting under the mower and protecting blades from large objects. To prevent back-over injuries, considered the most devastating, lawn mowers should have a no-mow-in-reverse mechanism and an over-ride switch located behind the driver's seat to force operators to look behind them.
The study was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.