Be Safe while Operating Lawn & Garden Equipment

Each spring and summer, millions of people follow the annual path to lawn and garden care. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging people to use caution and common sense when tending their lawns and gardens. According to CPSC statistics, each year about 400,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries from lawn and garden tools. According to CPSC chairperson Anne Brown, "Consumers must do their part to care for their own safety. They need to always use lawn and garden tools responsibly and follow manufacturer's instructions." Take the following precautions to prevent injuries from lawn and garden equipment:

Dress properly. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts (to avoid injuries from thrown objects like rocks or sticks), close-fitting clothes and no jewelry (to avoid getting anything caught in moving parts), sturdy shoes with slip-resistant rubber soles, eye protection, heavy gloves (protects hands when changing, sharpening, or cleaning blades), and hearing protection, such as ear plugs when using motor-driven equipment.
Before starting up machinery, remove objects from area that could cause injury or damage equipment, such as, sticks, metal, wire, and glass.
Make sure safety devices on the equipment are in place properly before starting work.
NEVER let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised. Teenagers should exercise caution and should only be allowed to operate such equipment if they possess adequate strength and maturity. A responsible adult should supervise them.
Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Young children move quickly and are attracted to mowers, especially if they have been given rides on mowers before.
Be alert and turn off the mower if children enter the mowing area. Use extra care when backing up or when approaching comers, shrubs, and trees.
Unplug electrical tools and disconnect spark plug wires on gasoline-powered tools before making adjustments or clearing jams near moving parts.
Be sure power tools are turned off and made inoperable if they must be left unattended to prevent use by children.
Handle gas carefully. Never fill gasoline tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot. Wipe up spills. Store gas in an approved container away from the house. Finally, never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or gasoline-powered equipment.
Never work with electrical power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCI's come in several models, including a portable, plug-in type.
Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.
Inspect the mower periodically for potential hazards, such as, loose belts, missing or damaged guards, and accumulation of grass, leaves or excessive grease to reduce fire hazards.
Garden equipment can be dangerous even when it is not in use. Sharp blades can cut if they are mishandled. Remember to think safety when operating and handling any type of outdoor power equipment.