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MOW BETTER

Safety first: cutting the lawn, not hands and feet.

June 07, 1997|From Associated Press

Thousands of people are injured in lawn mower accidents every year. Carefully read and follow the safety instructions in the owner's manual. Some safety instructions are on the body of the mower. Here are some tips and precautions:

Before You Mow

* Clear the yard of stones, wire, sticks, toys and other objects or debris that mower blades can turn into dangerous missiles. A mounted grass-collection bag to prevent accidents caused by flying objects. Never run a mower over gravel. Set the blade height for at least 2 to 3 inches.

* Never wear sandals or go barefoot when using a power mower. Safety shoes, with built-in metal toe guards, are best.

* Don't wear loose clothing or jewelry while mowing. Tie back long hair.

* Check the fuel level before starting the mower. Don't run the mower or fill the tank indoors. Fill the gas tank outdoors while the engine is cold, not when the engine is running. Let the engine cool for several minutes after running before adding fuel. Don't smoke, and stay away from all other heat sources. Wipe up any spills immediately. Be sure the mower gas cap is replaced securely.

* Make sure the machine is on level ground when you start it. Stand clear of the blades.

Mowing

* Mow only when grass is dry. You may slip and fall on wet grass; it can also clog the mower.

* Mow across, rather than up and down a slope. You'll have better control, and if you should slip, you'll be less likely to fall toward the mower. Never make a sharp turn on a slope. Don't mow steep slopes.

* Turn the engine off if you need to leave the mower unattended, even for a few minutes.

* Once it's running, never raise or tilt the mower.

* Allow no one, especially children and animals, in the area where you are working. If someone approaches, turn off the engine.

* Never carry passengers on a riding mower. Look behind you before you back up to be sure no one has strayed into the area.

* Mow slowly with a riding mower and avoid holes and sudden drops, which could cause the machine to overturn.

* Be sure that the blade on your riding mower is disengaged and the transmission is in park before putting your foot on the ground.

* Always put the mower away after you use it. But first let the engine cool.

Maintenance

* When working on a mower, be sure that it cannot accidentally start.

First, turn off the engine or unplug an electric mower and wait for the blades to stop. With a gasoline-powered mower, disconnect the spark plug wire. Don't allow the wire to dangle. Pull the rubber insulator back, expose the connector clip, and ground it by attaching it securely to an engine-cooling fin.

Some mowers have a special grounding tab, near the cooling fin, to which the clip can be attached. Or remove the spark plug completely.

* Periodically make sure that nuts, bolts and screws are tight. Remove grass, debris and excessive grease from the engine. Check to see that all guards, shields and safety devices are in place. Replace or repair damaged or defective parts.

* When turning the mower on its side to make a repair or for cleaning, make sure the oil fill hole is higher than the crankcase to prevent oil from running out.

* Shut off the engine and wait for all moving parts to stop before unclogging the discharge chute or removing the grass catcher.

* Frequently remove debris from the blades with a stick or putty knife. Disconnect the spark plug first, or unplug an electric mower.

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