07/08/2014 10:06 EDT | Updated 09/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Lawnmower-related amputations trigger warning for children

Three children have suffered amputations so far this summer in lawnmower accidents, and that has Ste-Justine Hospital warning parents not to treat riding lawnmowers as recreational vehicles or toys.

“By mid-June we’d already treated three children — almost one a week for three weeks,” Ste-Justine surgeon Patricia Egerszegi told CBC Daybreak on Tuesday.

Lawnmower injuries are not all that uncommon, although the three serious injuries in June are quite high for the usual summer average, she said.

She said children should not ride on tractor-lawnmowers in any way, shape or form. In fact, she said, they should stay far away from lawnmowers while they are being operated.

“After a while, if they want to get off or they just slip off, it’s very easy for their feet or their hands to get caught under the lawnmower, and you can’t see the blade. And so people are not very careful about lawnmowers because they think it’s protected. In fact, you can’t see it but the blade is there, and it’s a very, very powerful blade,” Egerszegi said.

Ste-Justine Hospital released a warning to that effect yesterday.

Egerszegi said it’s easy for young children to be enchanted by tractor-lawnmowers because they look like life-size versions of their tractor toys.

However, it’s important to keep them away from all lawnmowers, including regular ones, because of the risk of slipping or getting a rock in the eye.