Root out lawn and garden tool hazards.

Position:Your Life

For many Americans, working outdoors on the lawn and in the garden is a great way to exercise and relax. However, safety experts warn that, if caution is not employed with lawn and garden tools, you could wind up spending more time indoors, starting with a trip to a hospital emergency room.

"The most frequent injuries are from lawn mowers, which are unforgiving machines," cautions John Drengenberg, manager of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Northbrook, Ill., a not-for-profit product safety testing organization. "Statistics tell us that each year lawn mower accidents send close to 85,000 people to emergency rooms. But that's not all. Nearly 15,000 others need medical treatment for injuries from trimmers and other power garden tools."

Drengenberg suggests taking these precautions when working with lawn mowers:

* Read the owner's manual and know how to stop the machine instantly in an emergency.

* Always start the mower outdoors. Never operate it where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage or storage shed.

* Do not run an electrically powered lawn mower on wet grass.

* Use an extension cord designed for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of the machine.

* Never reach under the mower while it is running. Make all adjustments with the motor off.

* Ensure all safety guards are in place. If you hit a foreign object or have a malfunction, turn off the mower (and disconnect the power cord from electric models) before inspecting for damage.

* Never leave a lawn mower running while unattended.

* Keep other adults, children, and pets clear. Mowers can fling rocks at up to 200 miles per hour.

* Make sure shoes provide good traction and have sturdy soles to resist punctures and protect toes. Never work barefoot or in sandals, canvas shoes, etc.

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