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On Call: Lawn-Mower Safety

Q. My husband insists there's nothing wrong with letting our son play outside while he mows the grass, but I disagree. Who's right?

A.
You are. Every year, more than 9,000 children are injured in accidents related to lawn mowers. Kids can be hurt by the mower blades themselves or by rocks, sticks, stray toys, or other things thrown from the blades. These injuries can be severe (we'll leave the worst-case scenarios to your imagination). In addition, any noise over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Power lawn mowers come in at about 90 decibels.

That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children be indoors or at a "safe distance" whenever lawns are mowed. The only problem with a safe distance is that kids, especially small ones, have a way of moving from a safe place to an unsafe one quite quickly. The din of a lawn mower can make it even harder to keep track of them.

So in my family, it's a strict rule that whenever my husband is mowing the lawn, the kids all stay inside the house. And keep in mind that children should never, ever, be allowed to sit on a riding lawn mower, even if they're accompanied by a parent.

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