Lawnmower accidents are more common than you may think. Twice as many people are treated for lawn mower injuries as gunshot wounds each year.
Children under 12 and people over 60 are most at risk of lawn mower injuries. The most common problem is being hit by a projectile that’s been launched by the machine’s spinning blades.
There are three different types of common lawnmower injuries;
1) Bruises and lacerations from flying objects
Cuts and bruises from flung objects are the most common mowing related injury. Flying pebbles, sticks, and other pieces of shrapnel can be very dangerous, especially if they hit your face or neck. Blades that whirl at 3,000 RPM produce three times the kinetic injury of a .357 caliber handgun.
For impacts that do not break the skin, you can still get amazing bruises. To prevent bruising, wrap ice in a cloth and press the cold cloth against your skin until the area goes numb. This will also cut down on questions at the office, and may even keep your coworkers from picking on you.
If the projectile does break the skin, the first thing to do is control bleeding. Put pressure directly on the puncture wound while holding it above the level of the heart for 15 minutes. For minor injuries, it’s best to disinfect the area with iodine or rubbing alcohol, and then apply antibiotic salve plus a bandage to prevent infection.
To help limit swelling, take an anti-inflammatory pain medication like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Do not take Aspirin! Aspirin is a blood thinner – it promotes bleeding and can make bruising worse. Also, call up the doctor and schedule a tetanus shot.
If the bleeding will not stop, keep pressure up to reduce blood flow and seek medical help. Tourniquets should be avoided except in extreme situations. If the wound is deeper than 3 inches, do not pull the object out without medical supervision. Often, deep wounds will be made worse by tugging on the object. The foreign object may be the only thing that’s keeping you from bleeding to death.
For eye injuries, flush the area with saline or water. Then seek immediate medical attention, even if there isn’t any apparent damage. Eye injuries can take several days to show up, but require immediate treatment.
2) Cuts caused by lawnmower blades
These are the lawnmower injuries that cause the most hospital trips. Rotary lawnmowers can generate a great deal of force, and they cause gruesome injuries similar to industrial accidents. When treating these accidents, the first thing to do is turn off the lawnmower and prevent any further injury.
Next, it’s very important to control bleeding. Put pressure ‘upstream’ of the wound (closer to the heart) while elevating it above the level of the heart. Use an ice compress, if available. Apply absorbent and sterile material to the wound to soak up blood and promote clotting.
If you were injured, do not try to drive yourself to the hospital. Blood loss can cause people to do very foolish things, and passing out while driving will only make the situation worse. Instead, call an ambulance and stay awake until paramedics arrive. Or, get a neighbor to drive you to the hospital.
If any body parts were severed bring them with you so that they can be reattached. If an ice chest is available, take the beer out and put the body parts in there (everyone will suspect alcohol was involved, but it’s best not to confirm their suspicions). Chilling severed fingers and toes can prevent loss of function, and the ice chest will protect them from further injury.
3) Burns caused by flammable fuel or grassfires
Gas powered lawnmowers will sometimes blow up or spontaneously combust. That’s just one of their charms. If you are caught up in a lawnmower flambé, the prime thing to do is put the fire out. As the old saying goes – stop, drop, and roll. Smother the flames on your body and prevent further injury.
If the lawnmower is still burning, get away from it quickly. It may blow up, so you should put a wall, hill, or tree trunk between your body and the potential IED. Shrapnel from an exploding lawnmower is no fun, and once a lawnmower catches on fire, you can kiss it goodbye.
For minor burns, the next thing to do is chill down the burn with cool water. Do not apply ice – ice can cause too rapid of a temperature change and may put you in shock. Keep running water across the area even after it starts to cool down. Then cover the area with Aloe Vera (or tea tree oil) and antibiotic cream. Wrap the wounded area in gauze, and protect the burn from pressure or friction. Then, go get a tetanus shot to prevent infection.
For major burns, prompt medical attention can help prevent scarring, disability, and deformity. If you see someone who has suffered a major injury, call for an ambulance first, and then attend to their injuries. Do not remove any clothing or jewelry, because they often melt to the skin. Do not apply any lotion or ointment, and avoid breaking any blisters. Instead, apply sterile gauze or use a clean sheet to cover the burned areas.
Victims of severe burns are at risk of going into shock – it’s important to keep them awake, talking, and breathing normally. If Ed McMann shows up with the prize patrol, have him come back later. Instead, lie the burn victim down on their back and elevate their feet. They should drink lots of water and stay as still as possible.
Rather than dealing with these injuries, wouldn’t you rather buy a push reel mower?
Or, you could take these other steps to prevent an accident…