Yes, we know that mowing the lawn can be boring and sweaty and slow. But really, drinking beer while you mow? Talking on the phone? Texting??
People, those mowers can be dangerous!
A new poll by Consumer Reports unveiled some of our most dangerous mowing habits -- just in time for a frightening tally of how many Americans suffer lawn mower-related injuries each year, a large percentage of them to older adults.
More than 250,000 Americans are treated for lawn mower injuries annually, says the U.S. Product Safety Commission, the majority of them occurring to people under 15 and over 60, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Nearly 90,000 are injured badly enough to need hospital treatment, reports the American Association of Orthpaedic Surgeons, and the number of injuries is rising.
The most common wounds are caused by flying debris, such as rocks or branches, propelled by whirling blades that can reach speeds of 200 mph on the newer models. Bone fractures, severe cuts, eye damage and sliced tendons and nerves are just some of the serious injuries that can result.
Plus, too many of us are just doing foolish, unsafe things while cutting the grass. The Consumer Reports poll found that 54 percent wear shorts, leaving legs vulnerable to injury, and 14 percent wear flip-flops or sandals, providing little or no protection for feet.
Even worse, 8 percent drink beer or alcohol while mowing and 4 percent text or talk on the phone.
Considering that 100 people die each year from lawn mower accidents, here are some safety tips to follow the next time the grass needs cutting:
* Keep pets and kids well away from the mowing area.
* Never let a child sit on your lap on a riding mower or tractor.
* Wear sturdy work shoes, not sandals, to protect your feet.
* Before mowing, pick up stones, toys, branches and other debris from the lawn.
* Never mow wet grass or the mower could easily slip.
* Wear eye and hearing protection.
* Never allow children younger than 14 to operate a riding mower, or a child younger than 12 to use a walk-behind mower.
* Never refuel a hot engine.
* Don't use a mower that is leaking fuel. Many mowers have been recalled because of fuel leaks. Check www.recalls.gov.
* Always look behind you before reversing a ride-on mower, but avoid mowing in reverse.
Photo credit: Dumbonyc via flickr.com