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Residents urged to use lawn mower safety tips - Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner 7/22/2013

(Standard-Examiner) OGDEN - Every year, 68,000 people -- 9,400 of them younger than 18 -- are treated in emergency rooms for lawn mower-related injuries.

"Young children love to be with their parents when they are doing something 'interesting' like mowing the lawn," said Deanna Wolfe, Ogden Regional Medical Center trauma services director. "We see injuries from these situations frequently."

The hospital has treated injuries caused by lawn mowers and string trimmers used to take down weeds and to edge. Such injuries include severe foot and leg wounds from children slipping and getting their limb caught under the mower, and penetrating injuries from items being thrown from lawn equipment, Wolfe said.

"Older children often reach into the lawn mower to remove grass while the blade is still going," she said.

"While lawn mowers now have safeties to help prevent the blade from rotating when you aren't squeezing the handle, many put something on the bar to keep the mower running so it's more convenient, and this poses a significant safety risk."

Kathy Calton, McKay-Dee Hospital emergency department nurse manager, said small children should not be in the yard, or at least shouldn't be within 20 feet of those who are mowing or using other lawn tools.

She said the hospital and local pediatricians have seen cuts from mowers running over feet and legs and eye injuries from flying debris.

"Lawn mowing is a great job for teenagers, as long as they wear good shoes and eye protection," Calton said.

Wolfe also said it's important for kids to wear protective clothing and to drink plenty of fluids while mowing in the hot weather.

Another caution health experts want to remind parents and caregivers about is water and sun safety. Children can drown in very small bodies of water as easily as they can in a large swimming pool.

"A toddler who falls into a bucket of liquid only needs a few inches," Calton said. "They have an innate curiosity, and they peer into the bucket, or toilet, reach down to whatever has gained their attention and fall head first."

Calton said there are drownings every year in buckets and toilets as well as in decorative fountains, portable pools and waterfalls.

"Luckily, we haven't seen any drownings so far this year," Wolfe said. "Boating, jet skis, waterskis and paddleboards are always popular activities, and life jackets are a must for children at all times in a boat."

Wolfe also said children need to be careful so they don't slip and fall or bump into other children at splash pads, water parks and other water features.

Both Wolfe and Calton said life preservers and floaties should never be used as a substitution for adult supervision, and that no one should operate a water machine while under the influence of alcohol.

And while you've got your children out in the summer sunshine, don't forget to protect their delicate skin.

Dr. Chad Tingey, a dermatologist at the Ogden Clinic, said skin on children is thinner and can be very sensitive to the sun.

"A fair amount of sunburns at a younger age can result in a much higher risk of skin cancer later on in life," he said. "The safest and best sunscreens in children are physical blockers, which usually contain zinc oxide."

However, it's important to frequently reapply the sunscreen, particularly during long sun exposure and especially after getting wet, Tingey said.

"As a parent, you should teach kids good habits to stay safe in the sun. Teach them the importance of wearing a hat and sunglasses, how to properly use sunscreens, and teach kids that although their skin heals from sunburns now, the long-term results can be more dangerous."

Tingey said the most severe ultraviolet radiation levels are between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so he recommends limiting sun exposure during that time.

He also said that while 15 minutes of sunshine on the face and hands every few days is needed to create vitamin D, prolonged sun exposure for hours in the hot, baking sun can actually degrade vitamin D levels.