Avoiding summer safety hazards
Lawn mowers are some of the most powerful and dangerous tools used in the summertime. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 9,000 children visit emergency rooms annually because of injuries caused by lawn mowers.
Even the smallest oversights can lead to accidents that require years of rehabilitation. In June 2005, Shawn Fox, a 9-year-old from Lebanon Junction, Ky., was involved in a lawn mower accident that damaged the growth plate in his right leg and resulted in six surgeries over the past six years.
“These past six years have been exhausting,” Shawn said, “but I want my leg to continue growing.”
In 2009 Shawn underwent a surgery that allowed his growth plate to continue growing. For nearly two years the surgery was successful, but in winter 2010 Shawn’s pediatric orthopaedic specialist, Joshua Meier, M.D., noticed the plate had partially stopped growing.
“Shawn had developed a bony bar across part of his growth plate, which was causing his ankle to grow crooked. We had to decide if we wanted to try to continue the growth through another surgery or stop the growth of his left leg altogether,” Dr. Meier explained.
Because Shawn wanted to continue to grow, in February 2011 he underwent another surgery to remove the bony bar across the injured leg’s growth plate – what both he and his physician hope will be the end of a long road to recovery after his accident.
Despite all Shawn has been through, he continues to remain active with sports.
“For Shawn to be able to do what he does is a miracle,” said Bonnie Fox, Sean’s mom. “Dr. Meier has allowed him to continue doing the things he loves.”
Want to know more?
Should an injury of any type occur, you’re never far from pediatric experts at the 24-hour emergency departments at Kosair Children’s Hospital downtown and Kosair Children’s Medical Center – Brownsboro in northeastern Jefferson County. Orthopedic specialists like Dr. Meier from Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville are on-call to provide comprehensive orthopedic care for infants, children and teenagers. They also offer outpatient office visits in an environment that’s relaxing and reassuring to kids and parents alike. Visit kosairchildrenshospital.com/childrens-orthopaedics-of-louisville for more information about pediatric orthopedic care at Kosair Children's Hospital.
All sorts of injuries - from cuts to losing fingers and toes to burns - can be caused by lawn mowers. Erika Janes, R.N., coordinator of Safe Kids Louisville and Jefferson County, a program led by the Office of Child Advocacy of Kosair Children's Hospital, recommends the following tips for avoiding lawn mower injuries:
- Children younger than age 12 should never use lawn mowers; likewise, children younger than age 16 should not operate riding mowers. Children should never be given rides on mowers.
- Before starting to mow, scan and walk the area to remove items like toys, rocks and fallen tree branches that could be projected out and cause injuries.
- Sturdy shoes and protective eye gear should be worn at all times when mowing.
- A child should never check blade settings. Before an adult checks the settings, make sure the mower is turned off and the spark plug is disconnected or removed.
- Before removing the grass catcher, turn off the mower and make sure the blade has fully stopped rotating.