You have a green thumb — and you would love to pass on your knowledge about caring for a beautiful lawn, growing delicious vegetables and experiencing the flavors of fresh herbs. Working with your children in the garden can be an enjoyable learning experience for a child. But there are some hidden — and not so hidden — dangers in the garden. Lawnmowers, power trimmers, sharp-tined rakes, pesticides and fertilizers, as well as other tools of the gardening trade, can pose a great threat to young people. But by taking some basic safety precautions, gardening can provide quality “together time” for a family.
Young children should never be allowed to handle or be present when a power gardening tool is in use. In addition, some rakes, shovels and hoes can present a danger. Buying children their own set of age-appropriate gardening tools will help them learn to properly handle the instruments while keeping little fingers and hands safe.
When gardening with or around children, place rakes and other pointed tools with the tines down; put them away when not in use. Because of the temptation to play with “daddy’s toys,” never leave a toddler or young child outdoors unattended.
When your child is old enough to use power gardening tools — about 14 years of age, or older, depending on size and maturity level — give him careful instructions on how to use them. Discuss the dangers of mishandling the tools and the safety measures that must be taken.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year about 75 people are killed — 1 out of every 5 deaths involves a child — and about 18,000 are injured on or near riding lawnmowers. Most of the deaths to children occur when a child falls off the riding mower and is run over, or when a child is in a moving mower's path.
The most common lawnmower injuries from both riding and push lawnmowers are the loss of fingers, toes, limbs and eyes.
The CPSC recommends the following precautions for preventing lawnmower accidents:
Garden chemicals can be very dangerous — even deadly — if mishandled. If you have garden pesticides or fertilizers, be sure to store them in locked cabinets out of the reach of children. This includes organic materials, some of which are toxic. In addition:
Teach children to never put garden soil or plants into their mouths. Some soils contain high amounts of toxic substances, including pesticides, and should not be consumed. Many flowers are also poisonous and cause illness and death if eaten.
Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello, MD
Date: June 2012