Though it’s never anyone’s intention (hopefully not anyway!) to cut their’s or anyone else’s feet off when mowing the lawn, it does happen and usually as a result of sheer stupidity or carelessness.
Here we look at some of the most shocking and outrageous of all such accidents. Hold on to your hat…. And more importantly hands and feet.
1) Forest Hill, Maryland May, 2012. A father severs both the feet of his five year old daughter, apparently completely oblivious to the unfurling nightmare until hearing her screams. Local paper ‘The Baltimore Sun’ noted that the family’s backyard remained ‘half mowed’ in the days after the event, hardly surprising! Interestingly, nearby hospital John Hopkins Medical Campus in Baltimore reportedly treat 10,000 children a year who have suffered lawn mower related amputations. Make of that what you will.
2) Rocky Mount, North Carolina, 2012. Elmer Webb, 69, was killed whilst mowing a friend’s lawn with his commercial ride on mower. The device flipped over as he made his way down an embankment, and he was trapped and presumably macerated by the machine as it pinned him down. His friend could only look on in horror once they saw the full extent of what had happened
3) Birmingham, UK, 2013. Two roadworthy lawnmowers apparently ‘came to blows’ at a crossroads, with the result being that one mounted the other. Thankfully no one was hurt but we’re guessing other road users were less than amused. We can only speculate what gardening related spat resulted in the drivers jousting with their mowers on the public highway.
4) Milton, Ontario, 2014. A woman in her fifties is killed as she rolls her ride on mower down an embankment and into the creek below. She is killed by the mower as it lands on top of her. I’m starting to see a theme here…
5) Bainbridge Township, Michigan, 2013. A 66 year old woman drowns after she drives her lawnmower into the pond, and the lawnmower falls on and traps her… Seriously struggling with this one, how do you inadvertently drive into a pond?
6) Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 2014. A 21 year old professional landscaper is killed whilst, yes you guessed it, mowing on an embankment, the mower toppled over into the adjacent canal trapping the man underneath. He later died at at the local medical centre.
From all this anecdotal evidence, it seems that people would do well to bear in mind the inherent risks of owning lawnmowers, and particularly ride-ons and lawn tractors. So with that in mind here are some top safety tips!
1) Stay away from ditches and embankments, only mow sloped areas that you feel comfortable with, and make sure they aren’t next to large bodies of water
2) Always keep the mower in gear when going down slopes, just like in a car, coasting the mower means you aren’t in control.
3) Try to mow down rather than across slopes – this avoids the potential pitfall of toppling that has become the recurring theme here
4) Be aware of how grass collection bags, or other towed attachments effect the performance and feel of the mower, if they make it more unstable then the risk of toppling while mowing on slopes increases
5) No sudden movements – keep the mower in a low gear and move slowly when mowing in potentially risky areas, avoid turning, stopping and starting
6) Don’t try and stabilise the mower by putting your foot on the ground – by shifting your weight to one side like this you are making the mower unstable