Safety Tips for Children Mowing Lawns

Mowing lawns can be a positive coming-of-age experience for teens, as well as a great opportunity to learn responsibility and earn extra income. Keep these tips in mind to feel comfortable that your child will be safe every time they mow.

• The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16 years old for a ride-on mower.

• Read the manual. You may have never read it, but your child should. Knowing how your lawn mower works, and understanding all the parts and pieces, can help keep the user safe.

• Wear closed-toe shoes. Protective eye and ear wear is important too. Make sure they are wearing bug spray and sunscreen. A floppy/straw hat will protect the ears and neck from sunburn.

• Walk the area to be mowed and remove any objects that could be dangerous (sticks, rocks, toys, etc.).

• Make sure that protective guards, shields, the grass catcher, and other types of safety equipment on the mower are in good working order.

• Only mow dry grass, and only when there is enough daylight to see clearly.

• Do not let your lawn grow too tall. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps.

• Always add fuel before starting the engine, not when it’s running or hot.

• When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades. With a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over.

• Stop the engine and wait for the blades to stop completely before crossing gravel paths or roads, walking away from the mower, or inspecting or maintaining the mower.

• Keep younger children and pets inside so they are out of the way of the mower.

• When finished, park the mower and remove the key so that young children can’t accidently start it up.

• Once you’re confident your teen can safely use the mower, you may want to watch them the first few times they try it on their own, and always make sure someone else is home when they’re mowing.

You can always consider eliminating some of your mowing area by implementing no-mow turf or a native prairie.

When they’re ready, help your teen come up with a plan for how to promote and run their lawn care business and foster their entrepreneurial spirit!