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When Lawn Mowers Attack: National Medical Societies Offer Tips to Prevent Injuries; Children Often Victims

CHICAGO, June 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Using a lawn mower can be as routine as bike riding or barbeques during spring and summer. But often, people find themselves in terrifying situations with these seemingly safe household machines. In fact, 200,000 people - 16,000 of them children - are injured in lawn mower-related accidents each year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. However, lawn mowers don't "attack" on their own. Most injuries - such as severed fingers and toes, limb amputations, broken bones, burns and eye injuries - are caused by careless use and can be prevented by following a few simple safety tips.

The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) have teamed up to prevent injuries and educate adults and children about the importance of lawn mower safety during National Safety Month, June 2009.

"In 19 years of practice as a plastic surgeon and microsurgeon, some of the most devastating and disabling injuries I've treated are from lawn mower accidents," said ASRM President William Zamboni, MD. "It's especially concerning when children are injured since most of these injuries are preventable."

Many lawn mower-related injuries require a team of physicians from various specialties - plastic surgery, microsurgery, maxillofacial surgery, pediatrics, and orthopaedics - to properly repair them. Often, patients must endure painful reconstructive operations for months, sometimes years, to restore form and function.

"Power lawn mowers are dangerous adult tools, but many children, and sometimes adults unfortunately, see them as toys," said ASPS President John Canady, MD. "Lawn mowing can be dangerous to the operator as well as those nearby if proper safety precautions aren't taken. Physicians in this coalition often repair these heart wrenching injuries, and we feel it's our duty to help people avoid these accidents in the first place."

The ASRM, ASPS, ASMS, AAP and AAOS offer the following tips to help prevent lawn mower-related injuries:

  • Children should be at least 12-years-old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16- years-old for a ride-on mower.
  • Children should never be passengers on ride-on mowers.
  • Always wear sturdy shoes while mowing - not sandals.
  • Young children should be at a safe distance from the area you are mowing.
  • Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
  • Always wear eye and hearing protection.
  • Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released.
  • Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary - carefully look for others behind you when you do.
  • Start and refuel mowers outdoors - not in a garage. Refuel with the motor turned off and cool.
  • Blade settings should be set by an adult only.
  • Wait for blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel roads. (As a safety feature, some newer models have a blade/brake clutch that stops the blade each time the operator releases the handle.)

"We are pleased to be part of this lawn mower injury prevention coalition," said ASMS President Kevin Kelly, MD. "Maxillofacial plastic surgeons treat numerous facial injuries caused by lawn mowers, particularly to children, and the effects can be devastating. Very often, we see patients who suffer significant facial injuries by items thrown out of mowers like sticks and stones."

Photos of injured patients and a PSA video titled, "When Lawn Mowers Attack," are available for download on ASPS' Web site at

The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery is an organization of more than 600 surgeons that perform microsurgery and other complex reconstructive surgeries. The ASRM is dedicated to promoting, encouraging and advancing the art and science of microsurgery and other complex reconstructions through education and research. For more information, please visit

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 6,700 members, ASPS is a leading authority on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. ASPS Member Surgeons are certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons is the oldest organization representing maxillofacial plastic surgeons. The Society accomplishes its mission to advance the science and practice of surgery of the facial region and the craniofacial skeleton through excellence in education and research, and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

With more than 35,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons ( or ( is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal health. An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician who treats the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.

SOURCE American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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