Lawn mower injuries sent more than 76,000 people seeking treatment in 2003, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons believes most injuries are preventable. Here are its tips for safe mowing:
* Have the mower serviced in the spring to make sure it's working properly.
* Be sure the motor is off before inspecting or repairing mowing equipment or dislodging dirt or grass from blades. Use a stick or broom handle, not hands or feet, to remove debris.
* Wear protective clothing, glasses and shoes or boots when mowing. No one should be barefoot near a lawn mower.
* Never let children on or near a mower. Keep them out of the yard while it's being mowed.
* Walk through the lawn beforehand to look for debris and toys that need to be removed.
* Use caution when mowing hills and slopes. Use only a push mower on steep hills, and mow across slopes.
* Don't allow a passenger on a riding mower.
* Don't remove safety devices, shields or guards on switches.
* Cut the grass only when it's dry. You might lose your footing on wet grass.
* Add fuel to a cool engine, not one that's running or hot.
* If you must leave a mower unattended, shut off the engine.
* Never drink alcohol before or during mowing.
* Read the instruction manual, paying particular attention to safety hazards and unfamiliar features. Consult the manual when you work on the mower.