Well, here in central Alabama, we have just lived through a very cold winter and a major snow event. Although hard to accept it, spring is just around the corner.
For those of us who do our own yard work, let’s talk a minute about safety and I’m going to start with power mowers.
First realize they are dangerous. Treat them with respect! We, all too often as physicians, have to treat emergent and serious injuries from these tools.
First, go over the area to be mowed. This is particularly important the first mow of the season. Sticks and no telling what else landed in your yard over the winter and can become excellent projectiles from your mower.
I have personally seen a door key impaled into a foot, and a copper wire a patient carried around for years in his leg before it began giving problems, so pick up first, don’t let the mower do it for you.
Another thing to add here from personal experience is that running over a yellow jacket or bumble nest will not, repeat not, kill them, but it *will* enrage them and they fly faster than you run. I can’t personally speak to snakes, but I bet the blade misses them, too.
Another consideration is the condition of your equipment. I have seen multiple folks who have torn their rotator cuff from pulling on a balky pull cord. Even seen a couple who fell and broke their wrist when it broke or had the pull cord snap back and injury them. It’s not worth it. The equipment should crank easier than that. See your service technician. This tech can also sharpen your blade, but it’s up to you to make sure *every time* that it’s still tight.
Next, what are you wearing? I like to wear shorts and flip flops as much as the next guy, maybe more, but wearing shoes that can deflect at least some projectiles and long pants will save you some, but not all, injuries. Good treads on the shoes makes it less likely your foot slips under the mower deck (never a good thing, and frequently leads to and ER trip).
And on the line of common sense, people, get your little kids out of there! Send them somewhere else to play. You cannot tell where or when “normal” projectiles will emerge (rocks, small sticks and the like) and may hit the kid. Send them away.
I’m not even going to go into keeping your hands and feet away from the blade. Goes without saying.
Let’s be safe out there.
James Bailey MD