“Know Before You Mow”

“Hello, my name is Henry Burmester. I am 7 1/2. I got run over by a lawnmower. I lost my toes. They are in heaven now. I do not want this to happen to other kids.”

This is part of a letter written by a Henry Burmester, a little boy who lives not too far from me in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Henry’s letter was sent to Briggs & Stratton, the largest manufacturer of small engines for lawn, garden and other outdoor power equipment. In his letter, Henry told company executives how at four-years-old, he lost part of his left foot in a lawn mower accident. As a result, Henry is asking every lawn mower manufacturer in the nation to include a key chain that reads, “Where are your kids?” on every product they sell. The effort is just part of a national lawn mower safety public service campaign founded by Henry’s family designed to prevent tragedies like Henry’s from happening to others.

The goal of the Burmester’s “Know Before You Mow” campaign is to simply encourage homeowners to think before starting their lawn mowers. And before you think that there is no way your child could be hurt by a lawn mower consider these startling facts:

According to Safe Kids Wisconsin, approximately 10,000 children are injured in lawn mower-related injuries nationwide each year.

According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, 60% of lawn mower deaths are in children under the age of 5.

American Academy of Pediatrics finds that riding mowers account for 21% of pediatric mower-related injuries.

Studies show that safety messages in owners’ manuals are not enough to prevent accidents. Instead, experts say that people who own riding mowers need to realize that devastating consequences can occur when children are present near a moving mower and your attention is diverted (even for a few seconds). To help keep your kids safe, consider taking these precautions:

· Keep children indoors while the lawn mower is in use.

· Talk to your children about the dangers of lawn mowers. Let kids know that mowers are like “revolving knives,” and to never get near one while its running.

· Don’t let your child ride on a lawn mower, even when it is not moving. Many injuries occur when children slide off and fall under the mower blades.

· Always look carefully before backing up. It is best to stop the blades entirely if you do.

· Survey the area around you before you begin mowing.

· Clear any and all loose objects from the mower’s path.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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