Now that we’re into the summer season, many people have gotten into the regular routine of mowing their lawns. As you head outside to power up your mower, make sure you understand how to keep yourself safe.
Each year, more than 75,000 people are injured using a lawnmower, and 22 percent of lawnmower injuries involve the hand, wrist or finger. Brent Bamberger, DO, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand and elbow surgery at Kettering Health Network, most often sees lawnmower injuries in the form of patients sticking their fingers in the blades.
Whether you’re using a riding or manual mower, it has two or four blades that can be dangerous if handled improperly. If your lawnmower blades are spinning, be sure to keep your hands away. Do not adjust the wheel height or attempt to fix any clogs. Once a clog is cleared, the blade may move without warning. Even if the lawnmower is shut off, the blades are still sharp, so never lift a lawnmower from the bottom.
Keep children away from lawnmowers at all times, even if the machine is shut down. You should never operate a riding mower with more than one person on it at a time.
According to Dr. Bamberger, most mower injuries are a result of accidents, not necessarily the stress of pushing a mower itself. However, if you already suffer from hand pain from something like carpal tunnel, using a lawn mower, riding a motorcycle or any other activity that involves vibration of the wrist could exacerbate that pain.
“There are vibrational gloves you can buy,” explains Dr. Bamberger. “But the bottom line is to treat the carpal tunnel, whether that’s with splints, injections or surgery.”
If you do experience a hand accident this summer, make sure you know when a trip to the Emergency Department is necessary. Do not attempt to drive with an injured hand, but have someone take you if you experience any of the following:
- Deep, open wounds that reveal bone, tendons or anything white
- A cut that results in bleeding that is pulsing or throbbing
- Amputation or partial amputation of the finger
- that turn blue or purple
- Fingers or a wrist that appears crooked
Even if your wound is not serious enough to be treated in the Emergency Department, make sure you are caring for it at home. Wash cuts with mild soap and water and cover them with a clean bandage. Be sure to apply ice to impact injuries.
Above all, make sure you are alert and paying attention to what you’re doing when operating a lawn mower. Stay aware of your surroundings, and make smart decisions to keep this summer safe and enjoyable.
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