Don’t allow these incredibly dumb mistakes to occur in your family! Listen to these three responsibilities you must assume, and wedge them firmly into memory–now–before you even start the engine.
- 1. You must accept the responsibility to insure that your youngsters under 14 are not allowed to operate any power mower. They are forgetful, largely irresponsible at that tender age, easily distracted, and have no business attached to the controls of a power mower.
- 2. You must accept the responsibility to adequately protect yourself from catastrophic or crippling injury. How? Read the instruction manual–especially the section on safety. Then do what it says! Apply some common sense; wear protective shoes; check the lawn for rocks, kid or pet toys, or anything that might become a projectile…before you start the engine. The tip of a mower blade can attain a speed exceeding 19,000 feet per minute. It’s usually attached to a five or six horsepower engine. The force at the tip can reach more than 10,000 pounds per square inch. You stick your foot in there, or reach in with your hand to clear grass away from the chute, and it could be sliced at the rate of 120 times per second! Trust me…a lot can happen in a second or two. Keep children and pets completely off the lawn during any mowing operation. That’ll lessen the risk of their being struck by something thrown from under the machine.
- 3. Critically important: never,
- remove or defeat safety devices on a mower. A dead-man switch (that you may have already wired or taped in the “on” position) was designed for a very specific purpose–to shut that machine down almost instantly after you release the handle. Many fingers and toes could be saved if all mowers had a functioning dead-man switch. Additionally, the discharge-chute-deflector has proven itself to be of great value in preventing broken windows, bruised shins and ankles, and dented cars. Yeah…I know all about it! It gets in the way, so off it comes. Don’t do that!
As far as I’m concerned, the most valuable safety feature is the rear toe guard–the rubber or thick flexible plastic thing that drags on the ground behind the mower. I’m here to verify the fact that taking it off because it interferes with pulling the mower backwards is incredible dangerous…and can bring about painful expense. I know what I’m talking about! Take a look at the picture of a badly chopped-up shoe (follow the link at the end of this article). The foolish person who was wearing it broke four cardinal rules: he’d removed the toe guard, had defeated the dead-man switch, was pulling his mower backwards, and was daydreaming.
I’m still paying for those foolish mistakes. (In my own defense, however, I was younger then. . .and convinced of my indestructibility and, perhaps, immortality as well. It’s a young-guy thing!)
What can you do to protect yourself and your family from the dreadful and crippling consequences of these or similar errors? Don’t allow your kids under 14 to operate power equipment…even if they are smarter than most…even if they’re “supervised”…even if they beg or if you’re too darned lazy to get off the couch or out of the lawn chair and do it yourself. Read and follow safety instructions. And never tamper with safety devices or features. Now it’s up to you. You can do it. How much do you care about your or your kids’ personal safety? How much is a foot or hand or an eye worth?
If your power equipment has had its safety devices removed or defeated, that’s tantamount to playing with fire in a gunpowder factory. You must put those safety devices back in working order. And if you’re any kind of a responsible person, you’ll do it now, before another blade of grass is cut. Fail in that responsibility and you or one of your family may soon have a shoe that looks like mine to spark memories of damage. . .or lost toes. You may never be able to forgive yourself!