SALT LAKE CITY - It's still summertime in Utah, and cutting the grass with the riding lawn mower is a pursuit that experts say should be strictly for grown-ups.
Children may beg to ride along, but it's not a good idea.
Earlier this summer, a 12-year-old boy was treated at a Salt Lake City-area hospital after a lawnmower blade propelled a nail into his heart. Doctors say the boy was lucky to survive.
Dr. Junichi Tamai with Cincinnati Children's Hospital says it's more proof that lawnmowers are powerful, dangerous tools that can cause serious injuries.
"Oftentimes, it's either a child who was riding with a relative on a riding lawnmower, who fell off, or a child who was walking or running behind someone on a riding lawnmower," he says. "The relative would back up without seeing the child, and then run over the feet."
Tamai says children under age 15 should never be in the yard when someone else is mowing, and children or adults should never be allowed as passengers on riding mowers.
According to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, more than 9,000 children a year are treated in emergency rooms for lawnmower injuries, most of which occur in their own backyard.
Tamai says the majority of children treated for lawn mower-related injuries are very young, between the ages of three and five.
"When a kid is that small, you can always get hurt from just falling off," he warns. "But the part that is most concerning for us is, when a child is actually on a moving, riding lawnmower or nearby, because the degree of injury is almost catastrophic."
He adds that it's up to adults to take the necessary safety precautions when operating a lawn mower.
"Lawnmowers are designed to cut, and they work very well," he says. "And they have to be treated as a dangerous instrument - and it's not just a ride."
And when it comes to who cuts the grass, Tamai says children younger than age 12 should not use a push mower, and those under 16 should not be allowed to use riding mowers.