10 September 2012

The Grass is Growing

It's grass growing season. The winter hiatus is over, and lawn mowers are being dragged out of sheds all over the country.  The Sunday morning growl of the motor echoes around suburbs all over the country.

Lawn mowers are such common sight and sound during the spring and summer months that you may forget that they can be dangerous. The fast-spinning blades of petrol-powered and electric mowers pose a greater safety risk than hand-pushed mowers, so if you can get away with the rotating, cylindrical blades of a hand mower, it may be a safer choice. It is certainly better exercise.

It should be commonsense to think safety first when it comes to mowing the lawn, but of course, we take so much for granted that often safety is taken for granted too. 

Here are some helpful, commonsense safety tips as a reminder to take care when mowing the lawn.

An Empty Lawn
Pets, children and toys should all be inside (or at least well away from the lawn) before you mow. Check the lawn for sticks, stones, clothes pegs, garden tools and other objects before mowing.

According to experts, children under the age of 12 should not operate a petrol powered lawn mower. And children should be 16 years old before they are allowed to operate a ride-on mower. Lawn mowing is a popular money-earning chore for kids in the summer, but the under-12 group is the most likely to sustain an injury.  It's commonsense, but experts also warn that young children should never ride on a ride-on mower in an adult's lap or in front of/behind the adult operator.

When operating any mower, don't wear loose clothing that could get caught in the mower. Long hair should be put up in a bun or similar style, not tied back in a braid or ponytail. Safety glasses are important to avoid rocks and other debris that might get flung out of the mower's spinning blades. Footwear should be sturdy and thick - no sandals, thongs or light sneakers. And definitely no bare feet! Sunblock and a hat are good ideas too. Finally, ear protection in the form of earplugs is another good idea.

Riding Mowers on a Hill or Slant
When using a ride-on mower on sloped ground, sources say you should drive vertically, or up and down the slope, not across it. If you ride across it, you run the risk of toppling over sideways, down the hill. 

Because of its flammable nature, you should use a lot of caution when handling it. Never smoke while filling a mower (actually don't smoke at all), and be very careful to avoid spills. Always turn the mower off before filling it, and store petrol away from heat sources (such as a hot water service or the running mower itself).

Wet Grass
Don't mow wet grass - it can jam the blades and/or the grass deflector/chute. Wet grass can also cause you to slip and fall.  And it's just not good for the lawn - it doesn't get cut neatly and looks ragged and horrible. Wait a day or so until it dries out, the mowing will be easier then too.

Push, Don't Pull
Pulling a mower toward you can be very dangerous. If you slip, the mower could go over your foot.  Commonsense really, but we all need a gentle reminder sometimes.

Keeping the lawn neat and tidy doesn't have to be hard or dangerous work. Remember the safety tips and get mowing!

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