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University of Illinois Extension

Follow Safety Precautions in Doing Spring Yard Work

April 25, 2010

"If you belong to that vast army of after-work and weekend gardeners—and who doesn't these days—sunshine and spring rains will keep you busy mowing the lawn and tidying up your yard," states David Robson, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, Springfield Center.

As surely as spring follows winter, some of you will also help keep doctors and hospitals busy, tidying up hands and feet that get mixed up with the business end of a power lawn mower.

Your chances of keeping all your fingers and toes are pretty good if you use power equipment properly. Such equipment can make short work of a muscle-pulling job. However, if you use power equipment improperly, you are courting injury and perhaps death.

Taking time to read or re-read the instruction manual is still the best way to learn how to use a power mower or garden tractor properly. You should become thoroughly familiar with the equipment's capabilities and limitations—its safety devices and its potential hazards. Follow these safety precautions when operating power equipment:

· Check the area for sticks, stones, and other debris before you start mowing or tilling. Sharp, jagged pieces of cans and bottles can be lethal when they are flying through the air.

· Keep children and pets out of the area in which you are working.

· Do not permit young or inexperienced children to operate power equipment.

· Keep your hands and feet clear of the mower discharge chute. Many amputation injuries have occurred because careless operators caught hands and feet in the whirling blade of a mower.

· Wear heavy leather shoes for added protection. Never operate a power mower when you are barefoot or in sandals, and if your mower came with a protective plate attached to the back, leave it there.

· Keep the mower in top operating condition. When making repairs or adjustments, you should stop the mower and disconnect the sparkplug wire.

· Never refuel a hot or running engine. Do not overfill with gas or oil. These liquids expand as they heat, and a spillover could cause an explosion.

· Always push the mower—never pull it. Mow steep slopes sideways so the mower does not get away from you.

· Never carry riders on riding mowers or garden tractors. When working on steep slopes, use extra care to keep the mower from tipping.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Extension programs and materials are research based and strive to meet the needs of people locally. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, contact Rick Keim at 217/942-6996.

Source: David J. Robson, Extension Specialist, Pesticide Safety, drobson@illinois.edu

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