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CPSC Warns About Lawn and Garden Care Hidden Hazards

Release Date: May 14, 1998

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reminds consumers to practice safety and common sense when working in their yards and gardens this summer. About 230,000 people each year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries relating to various lawn and garden tools.

Each year, about 75 people are killed and about 20,000 are injured on or near riding lawnmowers and garden tractors. One out of every five deaths involves a child. CPSC estimates that most of the deaths to children occurred when a child was in the path of a moving mower.

"We want to do everything possible to prevent you and your family from becoming one of these statistics," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Part of our job is to make sure that the lawn and garden equipment consumers use is safe, but consumers must do their part to care for their own safety."

CPSC advises consumers to take the following precautions to prevent injuries from lawn and garden equipment:

-- Be sure you know how to operate the equipment. Know where the controls are and what they do. Don't remove or disable guards or other safety devices.

-- Dress appropriately for the job. This includes: sturdy shoes with slip-resistant rubber soles, long pants and long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes, eye protection, heavy gloves, hearing protection when needed, and no jewelry, which can get caught in moving parts.

-- Before starting, walk around the area in which you will be working to remove any objects like sticks, glass, metal, wire and stones that could cause injury or damage equipment.

-- Never take a child for a ride on a garden tractor or riding mower.

-- Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Young children move quickly and are attracted to mowing activity.

-- Never assume children will remain where you last saw them. Be alert and turn off the mower if children enter the mowing area. Use extra care when backing up or going around corners, shrubs, trees or other obstacles.

-- Never work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs come in several models, including a portable plug-in type.

-- Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.

-- Before making adjustments or clearing jams near moving parts, unplug electric tools and disconnect spark plug wires on gasoline-powered tools.

-- Be sure that power tools are turned off and made inoperable if they must be left unattended. This will help prevent use by children.

-- Handle gasoline carefully. Remember never to fill gas tanks while machinery is operating or when equipment is still hot. Wipe up spills. Store gas in an approved container away from the house. Finally, never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline.

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About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.

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