The Dangerous Lawn Mowing Technique You Should Avoid

When it comes to dangerous outdoor home maintenance tasks, you might not automatically think of mowing your lawn as one of them. Climbing ladders, cutting down tree limbs, and fixing roof shingles seem a lot more perilous, but that doesn't mean lawn mowing doesn't come with its warnings. You are, after all, utilizing a heavy machine with blades, and handling it recklessly can lead to serious injuries. According to the National Institute of Health, there are nearly 85,000 lawn mower injuries annually, with the most common injury being lacerations. 

To avoid a similar mishap, it's important to practice proper lawn mower safety — which means removing any dangerous lawn mowing techniques from your repertoire, such as pulling a push mower backward. One slip while pulling it back toward you could create a dangerous situation where the machine (and its blades) could end up cutting you instead of your lawn.

People might want to pull their mower backward for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps you need to double back to a spot you missed, or maybe there is an awkward niche you're trying to get to, and so you pull it back and forth until you sufficiently cut it. Whatever the reason, it's important you stop mowing backward. Here's why.

Why you should stop mowing backwards

There are several reasons why mowing backward is dangerous. When you are mowing forward, you are pushing the machine away from your feet, but when you move it backward, you are now moving it toward your toes. Most modern push mowers have a rubber flap installed in the rear, which acts as a safeguard between your feet and the blades. It also ensures that if the mower sucks something up, it won't shoot out back and hit you. However, this is just a protective barrier and won't shut off the blades if they do happen to roll over your feet, and since these blades spin 3,000 times per minute, the injury will be fast, swift, and likely severe.

Additionally, pulling the mower backward is dangerous because it limits what you can see. When you're pushing it forward, you know what is directly in front of you. When you're pulling it, you can't see what is behind or next to you, so you could walk into a dip or hole, slip on a wet patch of grass, or trip over a small bump or obstacle. This can cause you to fall and the mower to be pulled onto you.

It can also hurt children

If you aren't worried about a mower injuring you when going in reverse, then consider the fact it can also harm small children. While it doesn't happen often, it's still a considerable risk. According to a study done on riding mowers in Injury Epidemiology, while only 0.8% of lawn mower injuries were caused from reversing, a whopping 70% of them happen to kids under the age of 5. While this particular study was about riding mowers, the reasons these accidents happen pertain to all mowers. 

First, children are fast, and they can slip behind the adult without them noticing. Second, the machine is very loud, so sometimes adults can't hear the kids approaching them. This is especially true if they wear hearing protection. Due to this, it's quite easy to knock over a child while walking backward, causing a mower-related injury.

Because of this, 8,490 children under the age of 18 end up in the emergency room for mower-related injuries each year, per Nationwide Children's. To avoid this from happening with your family, it's best to exercise extreme caution and only mow moving forward. Pulling the machine and mowing in reverse can have catastrophic consequences that could have easily been avoided.