The Athens County Fire Department has provided a list of lawn equipment safety tips and safe work practices for residents who will be maintaining their yards this summer.

Personal Protective Equipment

Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles (never mow in your bare feet, sandals or sneakers).

Wear close-fitting clothing (long pants) — no capes.

Wear gloves.

Wear protective safety eyeglasses.

Wear hearing protection.


Clear the cutting area of potential flying objects, such as stones or toys, before you begin mowing; loose objects can project out of the lawnmower and cause serious injury

Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or shed; mowers should be refueled with the motor turned off and cool.

Never smoke when filling the gas tank. Avoid gasoline spills (be good to Mother Nature.)

Make sure that blade settings (to set the wheel height or dislodge debris) are done by an adult, with the mower off and the spark plug removed or disconnected.

Turning the blade is extremely dangerous; it can have the same effect as pulling the start cord. Although an engine has been shut off, even a slight movement of the blade can restart the engine.

If you have an electric mower, unplug the power cord before inspecting or cleaning it. You could be seriously injured if you try to make repairs to live electrical components in your mower.

Before each use, inspect power tools for frayed power cords and cracked or broken casings.

Keep lawnmowers in good working order with sharp blades.

Never use fingers to remove grass or debris from lawnmower blades; use a stick, long handled scraper or broom handle — not your hand or feet — to remove debris in lawnmowers.

Do not tamper with safety release switches; do not remove safety devices, shields or guards on switches, and keep hands and feet away from moving parts. Never alter a product or remove safety features such as blade guards or electric plug grounding pins.

Be sure the motor is off before inspecting or repairing lawnmower equipment.

Operating Tips

Always read the lawnmower owner’s manual for operating and care instructions. The owner’s manual will provide instruction on fueling the machine and on proper use; many lawnmower accidents are preventable. Learn the controls well enough to act instantly in an emergency and to stop the machine quickly.

Be sure you know how to operate the equipment.

Always start the mower outdoors. Never operate the mower where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement. Always start a riding mower from the operator’s seat.

Use a mower with a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is let go. (Operator Presence Control feature)

Keep a firm grip on the handle with both hands at all times. Keep the walk-behind mower flat on the ground. Never lift the mower.

Never over-reach while operating a mower; it’s important to keep your balance at all times.

Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children and objects behind you when you operate the riding mower in reverse. With a push mower, it is much safer to cut the grass while walking forward, keeping the mower ahead of you.

Avoid mowing backward or on a slope when possible.

Riding mowers have the potential to tip or roll over if used on slopes or steep hills, which can result in serious injury; use caution when mowing hills and slopes. Mow across with a push mower; mow up and down with a riding mower.

Do not cut wet grass.

Electrically powered lawnmowers should not be used on wet grass. Use an extension cord designed for outdoor use and rated for the power need of your mower.

Do not cut grass when there is not enough light.

Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.

Never insert hands or feet into the mower to remove grass or debris.

Stay away from the engine cowling, as it can become very hot and burn unprotected flesh. Stay clear of hot engines. Lawnmower mufflers can reach up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be sure the motor has been turned off before inspecting or repairing power lawn mower equipment.

No passengers should be allowed on a riding mower.

Be sober (i.e., don’t drink alcohol while operating lawn equipment).

Never leave a lawnmower unattended when it is running; if you must walk away from the machine, shut off the engine.

Edger/Trimmers and Blowers

Edger/Trimmer: Keeps hand and feet away from rotating parts while engine is running. Stop the engine when crossing gravel or any place where thrown objects might be a hazard. Do not over speed the engine. If you hit an object, stop the engine immediately. Turn it off and check for damage. Repair anything before restarting.

Never point the blower nozzle at people or pets. Follow local ordinance about when to use a leaf blower. Do not use very early in the morning or very late in the day. Use the lowest possible throttle speed.

Remember, if you have a hydrant in your yard, keep it clear of any landscaping so it can be seen from the street and accessible in case of fire.

Anyone with questions are encouraged to call the Athens Fire department at 740 592 3301

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