I wanna know: Toddlers & riding lawnmowers - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

I wanna know: Toddlers & riding lawnmowers

(Source: WikiCommons) (Source: WikiCommons)

The old saying goes, "better safe than sorry," and that's especially true when it comes to children and lawnmowers.

"I wanna know why people are riding around on these mowers like this with their children while they're cutting grass because it's unsafe," said Troy Gaskins of Beauregard Parish.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says there are thousands of injuries each year from lawnmowers. Gaskins, who drives many miles for work, is amazed by how many people drive a riding mower while holding a toddler. He's seen what can happen.

"I had a good friend of mine. His daughter was riding on a lawnmower with a grandfather and hit a bump, child fell off and her hand's messed up," he said.

Such accidents sometimes result in death. Nina Schmidt has worked for Koehn Repair Shop, a lawnmower sales and repair business in DeRidder, for fifty years. She says a child should never ride in the lap of someone driving a mower.

"It might be adorable, but it's not very smart," said Schmidt.

She says a severe injury is not the sort of thing you can see coming and avert it. 

"It happens too fast. You don't notice it. You don't see it soon enough to stop it," said Schmidt.

She says it's best for others to be inside during mowing.

"Rocks can fly out from under the mower and hit a child or anyone," she said.

Schmidt and Gaskins point out there are many safety features incorporated into today's mowers and power tools, but you have to read the instructions and follow safety recommendations. For instance, don't try to disable a shut off device such as one that stops the blades once there's no one sitting on the seat of a riding mower.

Schmidt too has seen tragedy.

"He got his foot under the mower," she remembers of a case years back. "And it wasn't even a riding mower. It was a walk behind mower and got his foot under that mower and, and it was, you know, mangled," she said. 

Another thing to remember. If your child comes up to bring you a cold drink, shut the mower off. Otherwise, a foot could get too close to the blade and he or she could lose a foot.

And obviously, don't wear sandals. But the main message here:

"We just beg people to keep their children away from the mowers when they're mowing. One time is all it takes and the child can suffer for the rest of the life or the child can be gone," said Schmidt.

"These accidents are preventable. Number one, don't put your children on. Number two, wear safety glasses. Wear steel toed boots while you're cutting your grass, weed eating," said Gaskins.

Gaskins points out a little safety now can prevent years of agony down the road.

For tips on safety with lawnmowers and yard tools click here.

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