Lawn Mower Injury Alert: What You Need to Know

More than 80,000 people a year go to the emergency room because these injuries.

ByABC News
June 26, 2015, 4:27 PM

— -- More than 80,000 people go to the emergency room each year because of lawn mower injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That's a troubling statistic that hasn't gone down in recent years. And the dangers from lawn mowers extend beyond personal injuries.

In June, a Forest, Virginia home went up in flames, and fire officials say the probable cause was the owner’s lawn mower. At least 40 firefighters battled the blaze, spraying the roof after it caved in. Officials say the owner used the lawn mower right before the fire, and then put it under the deck near stored gasoline.

But experts say one of the greatest threats is harm to young children. Ashlyn Potter, just 2 1/2, broke her left leg and nearly lost two toes after she was run over by a lawn mower.

“My grandfather was mowing the lawn and she ran up,” her mother, Jacee Dewey, told ABC News. "He was backing up and didn’t see her."

Her surgeon, Dr. Dale Jarka, of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, was so alarmed by the number of lawn mower injuries she was seeing, she sent out an alert to the community. "We had the same number by June 1st, [2015] as we had in all of 2014," Jarka said.

"Good Morning America" worked with Underwriters Laboratories to find out how you and your family can stay safe while using lawn mowers.

1. Experts say exhaust from a lawn mower can hit more than 240 degrees. If you run out of gas while using a lawn mower, have it cool down before you put more gas in.

2. Don't wear flip-flops. While it may be more comfortable to dress in casual clothes while mowing, John Drengenberg, the Consumer Safety Director at Underwriters Laboratories, advises mowers wear protective eyewear, long pants, and hard-toed shoes.

3. Clear your yard before you mow because nearby objects can become missiles. "The tip of the lawn mower's blade rotates at about 200 mph. If it strikes an object, it could send it flying at almost that speed," Drengenberg said.

4. Make sure young children and pets are inside while you are mowing.

5. Don’t let children ride on lawn mowers with you. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and be 16 before using a riding lawn mower.