If you're a worrier, you know there's a chance you could get bitten by a shark, or hit by a piece of falling satellite debris - these events are both possible, but not probable. Getting injured by a lawn mower, on the other hand, is something that could easily happen.
With the weather starting to get warm, it will soon be time to start mowing lawns. Here's a picture of my friend Joy's brother on his riding mower. That's a fine looking machine, and a nicely maintained yard!
But mowing can be dangerous ... for example, last year I hit a root with my push mower, and I was wondering if it might have loosened the nuts holding the engine to the deck. I shut it off, and then grabbed the motor by both sides and shook it to see if it moved. And then it dawned on me that the hot thing under my fingers was the muffler - doh!
Misery loves company, and therefore I set out to find some data to prove that I wasn't the only one who had done something like that. After a bit of research, I found that the Consumer Product Safety Commission tracks that sort of thing. They have a database of emergency room visits, and list the products that the accidents are linked to.
I downloaded their data from here, and imported the yearly spreadsheets into SAS. I subset the data to just the records associated with different kinds of mowers (push mowers, riding mowers, etc), and then generated a scatter plot by age and date. As you might expect, there are fewer mower accidents in the winter, and fewer for very young and very old people.
Next, to hone in on my particular interest, I re-generated the scatter plot with light gray markers, and then made the ones associated with burns show up in bright red. And I did find that I wasn't the only one who had touched a hot lawn mower muffler. (Hmm ... maybe we really should wear gloves while mowing!)
I wondered what other types of injuries happen with lawn mowers, so I generated the following bar chart. Looks like pulled muscles & lacerations are pretty frequent injuries.
You can click any of the graphs above to see the full size graphs, with hover-text showing the details of the accidents. There are several other graphs on the same page, and you can click the bar chart colors/subgroups to jump to that section of a table (for example, click the red 'Burns' section of the bar chart to see a table with all the details of the burn accidents).
Have you ever been injured by a lawn mower? Feel free to share in the comments section.