With warm weather finally here and grass greening up and growing fast, the sound of power lawn mowers fills the air in many neighborhoods. While they are useful tools to have, they are also hazardous when not used correctly.

In 2010 alone, more than a quarter of a million people in the U.S. were treated for lawn mower-related injuries, a 3 percent increase from 2009, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Many of the injured were young; those under 19 years of age accounted for 17,000 of the lawn mower-related injuries in 2010.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says there are a number of ways to reduce the risk of lawnmower-caused injuries:

  • Read the instruction manual
  • Keep your lawn mower in good working order and have it serviced before you start using it this season.
  • Be certain the motor is off before inspecting or repairing a lawn mower
  • Use a stick or broom handle -- not your hands or feet -- to remove debris from the machine.
  • Do not remove safety devices, shields, guards or switches from a lawn mower.
  • Add fuel before starting the engine, not when it is running or hot. And never leave a lawn mower unattended when it is running.
  • When mowing, wear gloves, goggles, sturdy shoes and long pants.
  • Don't drink alcoholic beverages before mowing.
  • Check for and remove stones, toys and other objects from the lawn before mowing.
  • Mow across slopes when using a push mower and mow up and down slopes when using a riding mower.
  • Do not cut wet grass.
  • Teach children to stay away from running lawn mowers, and never allow them to play or be in the area when a mower is in use.
  • Do not let children ride as passengers on mowers.
  • Children should be at least 12 years old before operating a push mower, and 16 years old before operating a riding mower.