Plastic surgeons have spoken out on lawn mower safety. Not only plastic surgeons, but many types of surgeons join us in bringing awareness of this danger. We of the Altiora Plastic Surgery & Medspa join the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) in bringing you a special alert of critical importance.
Because we are concerned with health as well as beauty, we feel compelled to let you know more about a hazard that lurks in your own community, neighborhood, and perhaps even on your own street. Surprisingly it is a danger that most people would not give a second thought: the danger inherent in that Great American week-end custom of lawn-mowing.
Altiora Plastic Surgery & Medspa Issues a Special Alert to Protect Sarasota Families
This customary week-end activity can lead to critical injuries. We are saddened to report the statistics behind behind lawn-mower injuries. In 2016, “more than 86,000 adults and 4,500 children in the U.S. were treated in emergency departments for lawn mower-related injuries,” according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Likewise, the reports reveal riding mowers or small lawn tractors literally collided with 800 children and sadly, more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation. Even more shocking, similar statistic that occur yearly. A quick research trip to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission led us to find there are 181,000 news releases and safety recalls for various lawn mowers, and that’s just for this year of 2018.
Alarming Statistics Lead to Plastic Surgeon’s Warnings about Lawn-mowers
Each alert or recall announcement has a warning like laceration hazard, impact hazard, risk of injury and fire hazard. We had to ask, what if a parent did not get one of those recall warnings? Moreover we have to ask, what if that hard-working machine innocently crouched in the garage were unsafe? Likewise, we have to take a long, hard look at how we handle these machines.
Medical Specialists Band Together to Signal Awareness of the Danger
We are proud that there are some champions joining forces to prevent these tragic accidents with education and awareness. Not only the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, (the ASPS,) but also many other medical specialty organizations have joined forces against this reoccurring risk in American life. Along with the ASPS, “the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) have teamed up to help prevent injuries.”
Plastic surgeons all over the US are committed to educating families about the dangers of lawn mowers. “Common lawn mower pediatric injuries include severe burns, cuts, broken bones, limb loss, eye injuries, amputated toes and severed fingers and often require hospitalization.” Many times a multidisciplinary team must repair these wounds. Plastic surgeons, including maxillofacial surgeons, combine with pediatric surgeons and orthopedic surgeons. They often band together to create a team to repair these injuries.
A Significant Announcement from the ASPS president Jeffrey Janis, MD
Often these accidental injuries happen in our own front yards. Dr. Jeffrey Janis, president of the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) stated, “We want to educate people so they can better protect themselves and their families while performing outdoor chores.” He also stated, “Lawn mowing can unexpectedly become a dangerous activity, especially when children are near. It’s imperative that operators take proper precautions and eliminate all risks to reduce these traumatic injuries.”
Joining in the announcements, Joseph Disa, MD, the president of the ASRM stated, “While highly sophisticated micro-surgical reconstruction can often repair severely injured and amputated parts, prevention is the best medicine.” We hope that blogs such as this one contribute to that prevention.
All of the Above Mentioned Medical Societies Sanctioned Special Safety Rules
Everyone of these medical disciplines, named above agreed to a special set of safety rules to guide you when using a lawn mower. We share these rules with our easy-to-remember headings, for the sake of families, friends and community members in Sarasota and beyond. Here are the Top Five Rules:
1. Lawn-care time is not play-time. “Keep your children indoors and do not allow other children to play nearby while you are mowing.”
2. A Parked Lawn Mower is not Kid-friendly. “Never allow children to play on a lawn mower, even if it is turned off.”
3. No Riders Allowed. “Never allow a child to ride on a riding lawn mower with you.”
4. An Easy Rule for Parents: It is the wise ruling of all these physician’s associations that no child should operate any lawn mower until at least 12 years old. “Children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a riding mower.”
The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP., believes that these injuries are completely preventable. The answer is in education by the parents. She says, “Before learning how to mow the lawn, your teen should show the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires.”
5. A Lawn-Mowing Rule for the Whole Family: The rules continue with concern for your senses of hearing and sight. “Always wear eye and hearing protection and sturdy shoes while mowing – not sandals.” (By the way, plastic surgeons suggest you apply many of these same cautions to those powerful, but harmless-looking weed-eaters also. It seems they can sometimes injure more than the weeds.)
Plastic Surgeons and Other Specialists Noted Three More Important Rules to Avoid Lawn Mower Injuries
These three rules refer to adults as much as to teens and children. And remember, you do not have to drive a lawn more for one to injure you. Plastic surgeons report that innocent bystanders, adults as well as children, endure many of the lawn-mower caused injuries.
6. About that Reverse Move: Doctors urge you to “Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless necessary.” They add that, when mowing the lawn, you must look out for other people who might have run up behind you.
(Most lawn mowers do not have rear-view mirrors.) When you must go in reverse, we ask you to please double-check for followers you might not expect.
7. The Most Easily Broken Rule: Remember to “Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn.” How many times have you seen a friend or a neighbor, neglect this basic rule of lawn-mower usage?
Obviously, this simple precaution will help you to avoid injuries from debris thrown out by the blades. The ASMS (American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons) President Donald Mackay, MD. stated that “Maxillofacial plastic surgeons treat numerous facial injuries caused by lawn mowers, particularly to children, and the effects can be devastating. Very often, we see patients who suffer significant facial injuries by items thrown out of mowers like sticks and stones.”
8. A Horror-Movie Style Frightening Rule: We know that you must sometimes adjust blade settings when you mow your lawn. However, doctors feel that only adults should attend to such adjustments. And they should remember to do this procedure only after turning off the lawn mower.
A Scary Metaphor for Danger: Bullets and Blades
In addition to plastic surgeons, both the American Pediatrics Association and Healthy Children.org have issued warnings. Their chilling online lawn mower safety poster reads, “The blades can fire a rock or a stick with the force of a bullet.”
Rick Schwend, MD, FAAP, president of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America, (POSNA,)agrees. He has stated, “The blades can deliver more destructive energy to a young child than a 357 magnum pistol.” He adds, “Lawn mowers are a leading cause of amputations for children, which can be a tragic devastation to a child and family.”
Taking Lawn Mower Safety Further Than Public Service Announcements
CNN, NBC and Parents magazine have also reported on this serious issue. At Altiora Plastic Surgery & Medspa, we knew Sarasota families would want to be aware. Therefore, the Sarasota Plastic Surgery Group has sent you the above rules in the hopes they help you talk to your kids if they are involved with lawn chores. Likewise, we hope they will make you think twice if you do your own lawn mowing.
David A. Halsey, MD, orthopedic surgeon and president of AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons,) states, “It’s important for parents to have a conversation with kids of all ages about lawn mower safety. Operating a lawn mower can be dangerous, but with appropriate care can be done safely.” Still, we think parents should be aware that an average of 13 kids per day are rushed to emergency rooms from lawn mower accidents. At Altiora Plastic Surgery & Medspa, we thought you might even need to talk to your friends and neighbors about the significance of lawn mower safety.
Back to School schedules and the arrival of fall will see this safety issue parked away with many lawn mowers, but we don’t want to see the statistics rise, and we have long summers here in Sarasota.