It’s summer in Chicago ; sometime between the stifling humidity and driving rain , we find time to enjoy the great outdoors. But with the snow cleared away and the barbeque grills out comes a new set of responsibilities. Weekend warriors spend their ‘relaxation’ time wrestling with branches and weeds gone awry. While we complained our way through a winter of shoveling, we’re no more thrilled to find the monotony of mowing waiting for these warmer months.
Sure, we can soak up the sun, but that doesn’t seem to quite make up for the hours spent on a job that will noticeably need to be done again in about a week. Some have given up on this job entirely, hiring it out instead. The rest of us throw on something comfortable, and maybe some music, and push our way to a pruned lawn. Although it may appear to be a relatively mindless task, we’re actually working with dangerous equipment.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons tracked the statistics, and 100,000 Americans were injured by lawn mowers in 2007. The cost: an estimated $567,000,000 in medical, legal, insurance, and disability every year! You might be surprised to learn that most of these injuries occur not among our teenage kids told to take over the job, but among adults aged 25 to 64.
Injuries range from mild to surprisingly severe, from muffler burns to lost limbs. While most of us think of the lawn mower as an innocuous household appliance, it’s actually a dangerous tool. Don’t believe me? Well, the energy transferred by a typical lawn mower blade is equivalent to being shot in the hand with a .357 Magnum pistol; a lawn mower can eject a piece of metal or wood up to 100 miles per hour.
Knowing those stats, it makes sense that most of us should step up our safety routines regarding this regular chore. So, while tuning out to the best of the 80s and slipping on sandals might be tempting, it’s better that we all take the safety precautions necessary. Dr. Marvin Royster , with the Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, suggests that we make sure to wear protective clothing, including goggles, gloves, boots, and long pants. He also cautions never to mow barefoot or in sandals: “Mowing the grass with flip-flops on or sandals on, you’re just asking for trouble.” Other safety tips include making sure your mower has been serviced properly, adding fuel before starting the engine, and keeping hands and feet away from the mower’s blade even when it’s turned off.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep your lawn looking tidy, although more eco-friendly alternatives are springing up left and right. If you do choose to ‘mow it alone,’ just be sure that you’re not short on safety, no matter what length you keep your lawn.