Lawn Mower Safety Guide

Design for Everyday Living Series/1971 - Misc. Pub. No. 334
Clifford W. Collier, Jr.
WVU Extension Specialist
Landscape Architecture

Each year many serious accidents occur while mowing the lawn. These accidents result in costly medical expenses or property damage. You should be familiar with your lawn mower in order to obtain the best results, have a neat appearing lawn, and prevent accidents. Here are suggestions to aid you in safely carrying out this necessary task:

  1. Read the instruction manual to learn the proper way to start and stop the engine, how to make minor adjustments, and operate the controls.
  2. Before the mowing season arrives check the mower and have it in perfect condition. Have the blades sharpened if needed. Clean the air filter. Change the oil. Remove oil and greasy dust from the engine. Clean debris from the air passages around the engine. Make sure the wheels are on tight and the mower is level. Adjust cutting height if necessary. If you are not mechanically inclined, take the mower to someone experienced in lawn mower maintenance and repairs.
  3. Always remove the wire from the spark plug when the mower in not in operation, or when adjusting the blade or underneath parts.
  4. Store gasoline in approved metal containers in an outbuilding, never in glass or unapproved plastic containers. Do not store gasoline in the house. Gasoline should not be stored for more than six months.

Refueling and Starting the Lawn Mower

  1. Always refuel a power mower when it is cold before starting the engine. Gasoline spilled on hot surfaces is easily ignited when the engine is restarted.
  2. When starting a mower, make certain it is on a level, solid surface and out of gear.
  3. Stand firmly; make sure your feet and hands will not accidentally come in contact with the blades.
  4. Do not run a gasoline mower in a closed room while making adjustments or repairs. Gasoline engines give off exhaust fumes containing carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas.
  5. Never fill the gasoline tank completely to the top. Allow expansion space. Heat causes gasoline to expand and fire can result if it spills over the hot engine.

Mowing Precautions

  1. Inspect the lawn area and remove all objects such as sticks, stones, toys, bones, etc. Rotary-type mowers pick up and throw these objects which could result in serious accidents to people as well as causing property damage. Cutting blades of reel-type mowers are easily damaged by these objects.
  2. Mow only when the grass is dry. In addition to the damage done to the lawn, wet grass is slippery and there is a greater danger of a foot accidentally sliding into the mower. In the case of electric mowers, dangers are increased because a person could be electrocuted if the cord were accidentally cut or the mower developed a short in the wiring.
  3. When mowing banks, mow across the slope--not up and down. There is less possibility of slipping into the mower or having the mower slide over the feet.
  4. Always push the mower in front of you. Do not pull it behind you.
  5. Never leave a mower unattended with the engine running. Unplug electric mowers or disconnect the wire from the spark plug on gasoline motors.
  6. If using an electric mower, mow back and forth working away from the power source.This makes it easier to keep the cord out of the path of the mower.
  7. On electric mowers use only a 3-wire heavy-duty cord. Make certain that the cord is plugged into a grounded outlet.
  8. Make certain all mowing parts have stopped before putting your hands in the vicinity of the blades for any reason. Rotary-type blades will drift or coast for a time after the power is cut off.
  9. Do not wear loose clothing while mowing. Loose clothing can be caught in the moving parts of the machine.
  10. Keep other people out of the area when the lawn is being mowed. This is especially true if rotary-type mowers are being used.
  11. Do not teach or let small children operate a power mower. They may get the idea to use it by themselves.