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Reel Mowers versus Rotary Mowers: Safety Precautions

The reel mower was the original form of mechanical mower for lawns, and the mechanism has changed little over the years; reel mowers have curved blades that produce a cutting action alongside a stationary steel plate. Rotary mowers, on the other hand, cut grass with a horizontal blade that moves at high speed. Although rotary mowers are popular with homeowners, they may pose a safety risk. The spinning blade of a rotary mower can throw debris hidden in the grass at very high speed or cut off a hand or foot if proper safety measures are not respected. The danger of rotary mowers can be demonstrated by placing on object in the grass chute:

“Simply tie an uncooked chicken wing to the end of a broom handle. The wing, which looks a little like a human finger, is then placed in the grass chute as though it is being used to free clippings that have built up and are blocking the release of grass. The blade quickly shreds the bones and skin and shows the spectator what will happen if their hand or food gets too close to the blade . . . (Be sure to wear eye protection when conducting this demonstration.)” Christians, Nick, Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management: Ann Arbor Press, Chelsea, Michigan: 1998, page 146.

Between the two mower types, Reel mowers are the safer choice, but all mowers must be operated with caution.
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