It could happen to you…

by Senior Master Sgt. Shuntesia Dupree
86th Airlift Wing Safety office
Photo by Serg Salivon/
Photo by Serg Salivon/

My sweet, loving husband decided to mow the lawn this past weekend. I thought it was an awesome idea since the weather was nice and the grass was semi-long. After a few minutes of hearing the lawn mower operating, I decided to check on him. As I looked off my balcony, I noticed him wearing flip flops, shorts and a tank top while trying to pull the lawn mower up the side of the hill. Immediately, I stopped him from proceeding and asked him to get properly dressed for the “occasion.”

Mowing the lawn is a more hazardous event then most people think. In the past five years, the Air Force has had 41 serious mishaps involving lawn mowers and gardening. The story usually starts with someone not wearing the proper protective equipment and it usually ends with toe amputations, severe lacerations or burns. If you are using a riding lawnmower, there is always the possibility of it over-turning.

All it takes is one slip while pushing or pulling the lawnmower and the blades can cross over your leg or foot in just a few seconds. Another unfortunate incident is when an object gets stuck underneath the blade and shoots out at the speed of a bullet. I’m sure you have heard of someone mowing the grass, and they struck a nearby window with an object that was lying in the grass.

To prevent injuries from happening to you or a loved one, here are some basic lawn mowing safety tips:
• Mow when grass is dry to avoid slipping.
• Wear protective gloves, goggles, sturdy shoes, and long pants when you use lawn mowers.
• Never mow barefoot, or in sandals or flip flops.
• Walk around the lawn, and be sure it is free of large rocks, toys and other objects.
• Do not adjust height of cut while engine is running.
• Be sure of your footing.
• Be extra cautious on hillsides. Mow hillsides side to side.
• Do not remove or bypass safety devices, shields, or guards on switches.
• Do not operate mower without grass catcher or guards in place.
• Stop mower on level ground and shut off engine before leaving the operator’s position for any reason.
• Stop mower and inspect blade after hitting objects or if abnormal vibrations occur.
• Add fuel before starting the engine, not when it is running or hot.
• Do not operate the mower while smoking or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For more information, call the 86th AW Safety office at 480-7233.