Lawn Mowing Danger

Tens of thousands of people are injured a year in mower accidents. Consumer Reports says one family learned in an instant just how dangerous mowing your lawn can be.

"It scared me so much. My whole life was frozen fear," said Kenleigh Merritt.

Then 6-year-old Kenleigh Merritt ran toward the riding mower. She slipped and her legs got caught underneath it.

"This can't be happening. Did my six-year-old daughter have her legs pulled up under a lawn mower today?" asked Kenleigh's mother.

But accidents involving lawn mowers and tractors happen all too often.

Kenleigh is one of 77,000 rushed to emergency rooms last year.

Doctors at Kenleigh's hospital treat five to ten people each mowing season.

"The classic story that you hear is, there was a clog and I just was going to free it up a little bit and the hand or sleeve gets pulled into the lawn mower," said Dr. Whitney McBride.

Consumer Reports mower expert Peter Sawchuck says blade-tip speed can exceed 200 miles per hour.

"Mowers today have safety features that will help prevent you from contacting the blade. Never disable any of these or override them," said Sawchuck.

Flying objects also pose danger.

To demonstrate, Consumer Reports mowed over several golf balls.

Sharp pieces flew more than 100 feet away.

So be aware of the direction the discharge is pointing.

It's another reason to always keep children and pets away from mowing.

As for Kenleigh, after eight surgeries, she still faces more.

Her parents' hope-that telling their story helps others.

"I think about it every day. And every day I wish it didn't happen, but it did. I don't want it to happen to anyone else," said John Merritt, Kenleigh's dad.

Another important safety precaution-don't drink and mow.

A Consumer Reports survey shows 12 percent of people drink beer while cutting their lawn, which impairs both judgment and reaction time.

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