Staying safe while caring for your lawn

The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of lawn care, but after months of mowing, it can be easy to put yourself on autopilot when cutting the grass. Last year, more than 300,000 people were treated for lawn mower–related injuries according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Lacey Nix knows how quickly lawn mower accidents can happen.

“I was in the backyard and got to the last final strip of grass,” said Nix. “I was kind of distracted. I had my headphones in, saying hi to my kids and I hit something with the mower. I heard a loud noise and then felt this sharp pain in my leg.”

That sharp pain was the result of a metal hanger that ripped straight through her lower left leg. Her fiancé rushed her to the hospital where doctors had to perform emergency surgery.

“They were so surprised they asked if they could take photos,” Nix added.

Nix – who writes about lawn care and home improvement for Angie’s List – admits she made some mowing mistakes.

“I wrote a cover story on DIY disasters just a few months ago, and I honestly thought that some of the mistakes were so silly and so crazy, that it could never really happen to me,” Nix said, “and now I find myself in one of the biggest mistakes of all time. So it can happen to anybody.”

Angie’s List says the best thing you can do to be safe is to always check your lawn for stones, sticks and other objects. Wear long pants and sturdy, closed–toed shoes. Children should never ride as passengers on riding mowers or be towed behind. Also, don’t forget to read the owner’s manual.

“You should always read the owner’s manual of your lawn mower because all models can be different,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “Safety features could be different, the blade could operate or be located in different spots, so don’t take it for granted, read before you operate.”

You shouldn’t rush through mowing your lawn. If you’re crunched for time, you may be better off hiring a professional.

“My cheapness cost me about $26,000 after everything was all said and done,” said Nix. “So, for something that would have cost me about $100 a month for somebody else to do, it was really, really dumb of me.”

If you want to keep your lawn mower running in optimal condition for as long as possible, don’t neglect routine maintenance. For a quick turnaround, take your mower in at the close of the mowing season or before spring grasses start to grow. Angie’s List says pros typically charge between $50 and $75 for a regular tune–up.