Ride-On Mowers and Children: Five Safety Rules for Parents

Ride-on mowers make easy work of cutting the grass, but if you have children, you need to take special precautions with your mower. Wondering what you need to do? Take a look at these safety tips:

1. Do not let your children operate your ride-on mower

It's great to have kids help with chores around the house, but unfortunately, they should not use a ride-on mower. Ride-on mowers are basically small tractors with spinning blades beneath them. A child does not have the maturity or strength to operate them safely.

2. Do not invite your kids to ride with you

In lieu of letting their kids use the ride-on mower on their own, some parents invite their little ones to ride on their laps. This is not safe either. Unfortunately, there are reports of children falling off their parents' laps and getting lacerated by the blades or getting hurt by the fall itself.

3. Do not tow children in wagons behind the mower

You can buy a range of wagons to tow behind your ride-on mower, but these are not designed for kids either. They are great if you are hauling grass clippings, wood or landscaping materials, but they are not designed to hold humans. Children could fall out of the trailer easily.

4. Tell children to keep their distance from the mower

In addition to not letting your child drive, ride on or be towed by the mower, you should also instruct your child to keep his or her distance from the mower. Unfortunately, parents have backed over children who are playing behind the mower or following it. Ideally, you should add a rearview mirror to your ride-on mower so that you can see what is happening behind you.

In other cases, rocks or other items may be hit by the mower's blade, fly into the air and smack into a nearby child. Keep small children inside while you are using the ride-on mower, and make sure that older children are aware of and prepared for the risks.

5. Dress "helpers" in safety gear

If you have older children outside helping with other aspects of the yard work, they should wear safety gear. Closed toed shoes protect feet from injuries if they get too close to the mower, and goggles can protect your child's eyes from flying rocks or debris. Also, consider developing a set of hand signals. That way, if your child needs you to stop the mower and help them with something, they can give you  a hand signal from afar, and they don't have to approach the running mower to talk to you.