Seasonal Safety

Fall and Winter

Lawn Mowers

More than 9,000 children visit an emergency room each year for a lawn mower related injury. When using a lawn mower it is important to practice safe habits to prevent an unintentional injury. Remember, a lawn mower is not a toy, not for rides, and always keep kids inside while they are in use!

  1. Children must be 12 years old to operate a push mower and 16 years old to operate a riding lawn mower. It is important to teach your child how to safely use a lawn mower. Spend time showing them how to operate the piece of equipment properly and safely. Teach them to turn off the lawn mower and make sure the blades stop completely before removing any debris. Supervise their work until you are sure they can manage the task alone.

  2. Teach children a lawn mower is not a toy, it is a dangerous piece of equipment. Lawn mowers can be an attractive piece of equipment for children. It is important you explain to children that they should never touch, play or go near the equipment even when they are off and the blades are not engaged.

  3. Never let anyone, including a child, ride as a passenger on a riding mower. Passengers, including children can easily fall off a lawn mower when riding especially when turning on uneven ground. Having a passenger or a child on your lap while using a lawn mower could interfere with your ability to operate the machine safely. Lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers are designed for one person. Do not allow children to ride in the trailer of a riding lawn mower or pull children on their wheeled toys behind a riding lawn mower.

  4. Watch for kids! Keep children inside and make sure the area is clear before mowing the lawn. Teach children it is not safe to play near someone who is mowing their lawn. Mowers are very loud machines and most times the person mowing may not be able to hear or see a child approaching the mower.

  5. Prevent projectiles. Clear the yard of sticks, rocks, toys or other items that can be thrown by the mower. Another reason to keep children inside while the mower is being used. The operator of the lawn mower should wear appropriate hearing and eye protection.

Snowmobile and ATV/ORV

All-terrain and off-road vehicles can be year long activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that riders should be at least 16 years of age to operate these vehicles, as they are often too large and powerful for smaller kids to handle. Operating an ATV requires a rider to make quick decisions and shift weight. Children under 16 are unlikely to make these choices or have the skills to carry them out. Whether on private or public land follow these tips in order to have a safe ride.

  1. An adult (over 21) must actively supervise anyone under the age of 16 on a snowmobile or an ATV/ORV. Active supervision means having direct observation and being close enough to come to the immediate aid of a youthful ATV/ORV operator.

  2. Drivers under 16 years old must take an ATV safety training course and carry their certificate with them at ALL times. Online ATV and snowmobile safety courses can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/.

  3. Always wear an approved helmet and eye protection. Helmets with full face/chin protection are best. Replace helmet after a crash or fall.

  4. Only ride a snowmobile or ATV/ORV that is right for your age and size. Vehicles designed for younger riders are smaller and less powerful. A rider on an appropriately sized vehicle can reach all of the controls, have the strength and ability to operate them.

  5. Never pull people or anything behind a snowmobile/ATV. Snowmobiles are not designed to pull sleds, people or anything behind it. Always check your manufacturer’s guide for the approved number of passengers and the amount of weight it can carry.

  6. Stay alert! Watch for obstacles such as fallen trees, rocks, ditches, fences, open water (even frozen).

  7. Stay on the trail. Keep your ride on marked trails as they have been groomed and less likely to have hazards. Going off trail can lead you into unknown areas that can be dangerous and result in accidents.

  8. Never let kids or teens drive a snowmobile or ATV with a passenger. For a youthful rider, passengers can make snowmobiles or ATV/ORV’s unstable and difficult to control. Passengers can also cause distractions when a rider's focus should be on the path.

  9. Use all safety equipment that comes with the vehicle, including seatbelts. Follow manufacturers guidelines for proper vehicle use. Make sure the safety equipment is functional and used correctly to avoid an unintentional injury.

ATV/ORV Operator Regulations

  • Allowed to operate a 3-wheel ATV:

    • Under 10 years old: No

    • 10-11 year olds: No

    • 12-15 year olds: No

    • 16+ years old: Yes

  • Allowed to operate a 4-wheel ATV:

    • Under 10 years old: No, except on private land while performing farm-related work operations

    • 10-11 year olds: No, except on land owned by the parent or guardian, under visual supervision** and with ORV certificate

    • 12-15 year olds: Yes, if under visual supervision** and with ORV certificate

    • 16+ years old: Yes

  • Allowed to operate other ORVs (including 2-wheel):

    • Under 10 years old: Yes, if under visual supervision** and with ORV certificate

    • 10-11 year olds: Yes, if under visual supervision** and with ORV certificate

    • 12-15 year olds: Yes, if under visual supervision** and with ORV certificate

    • 16+ years old: Yes

  • Allowed to cross street/highway:

    • Under 10 years old: No

    • 10-11 year olds: No

    • 12-15 year olds: Yes, if under visual supervision** and with ORV certificate

    • 16+ years old: Yes

**An adult must have direct observation and be close enough to come to the immediate aid of a youthful ORV/ATV operator.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

Daylight saving time brings longer hours of darkness. Whether it’s walking to school, the park, or enjoying a walk around your neighborhood, it's important to follow these safety tips to be safe and seen:

  1. Before crossing the street look left, right, and left again. Continue to look until you have crossed the street safely.

  2. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Make sure vehicles have come to a complete stop before crossing.

  3. Use crosswalks when available and cross at street corners, using traffic signals. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

  4. Don't cross the street between parked cars. Be alert for cars turning or backing up.

  5. Avoid distractions by putting down your phone or video game when you cross the street. If you need to use a phone, stop walking and find a safe place to talk.

  6. Be seen in the dark by wearing bright colored clothing. Place reflectors on coats, backpacks and walk in well-lit areas.

  7. Icy walk-ways can cause slips and falls. Ice can hide under a light layer of snow. Use extra caution when crossing streets and wear the appropriate footwear to avoid a slip or fall.

Fire Safety in the Home and in the Yard

As the weather gets colder and darker we see more people staying warm with outdoor and indoor fires. Permanent and portable fire pits, along with indoor fireplaces, can bring danger to your home. In order to stay safe around fires, follow these tips:

  1. Keep children at least 3 feet from the fire pit area. Make sure the fire pit is away from your house and anything that can burn to prevent unintentional fires and burns.

  2. Actively supervise children when fire pits or fireplaces are in use. Teach children fire pits and fireplaces are dangerous areas. Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from floating out.

  3. Assume it’s hot even when the fire is out! Turn off or put out fires before you leave the area. There may be hot coals or embers under the ashes even hours after the flames are put out.

  4. Store matches and lighters out of children’s sight and reach. Place matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or container. Never leave matches or lighters in a bedroom or any place where children can reach them.

  5. Create and practice a fire escape plan. Create a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room. Choose a place to meet outside that is a safe distance away from your home. Teach kids it is dangerous to hide during a fire.

  6. Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Daylight saving time is a great reminder to change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on each level of your home, inside bedrooms and near common areas.


Button Batteries

The small, round, flat batteries often found in toys, remote controls, and greeting cards are known as button batteries. These batteries can cause serious internal injuries and tissue burns if swallowed. Be aware of where these batteries are found and be sure to dispose of them appropriately when you no longer need them.

  1. Button batteries are not just a choking hazard, they can cause severe internal burns if swallowed. When a child swallows a button battery a chemical reaction can severely burn the esophagus in a short period of time.

  1. Find the hazard. Search your home for items that may contain coin-sized lithium batteries. Items that use button batteries may include: remotes, greeting cards, hearing aids, games, toys, digital scales, watches, thermometers, calculators, key fobs, flameless or tea light candles, flashing holiday jewelry or decorations.

  1. Keep loose or extra batteries locked away. Place a piece of duct tape over the battery compartment of items that require button batteries to work.

Halloween Safety

Halloween is a fun time for children to dress up in costumes, enjoy parties, and eat delicious treats. Children are often very excited to walk around the neighborhood trick-or treating and enjoying spooky fun. Because of this, it is important to stay alert and be seen. To help ensure a fun holiday follow these tips:

  1. Be seen in the dark. Use reflective tape or stickers on trick or treat bags and clothing to be seen in the dark. If possible, choose to wear light colors.

  2. Face facts. Choose face paint and makeup instead of Halloween masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.

  3. Make them glow! Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.

  4. Right fit. Make sure a child’s costume is the right size to prevent trips, falls and does not restrict movement.

  5. Actively supervise children while trick or treating. An adult should be present with children trick or treating at all times.

  6. Check it out! Be sure to inspect candy before children eat their treats.

In the Cold

The winter is a great time for fun outdoor activities such as sledding and skating. Cold weather, ice, and snow can be fun but also pose a risk for serious injuries for children. The following safety tips will help children enjoy winter activities safely.

  1. Dress kids in warm layered clothing and have them come inside often to prevent frostbite. Use hats, gloves, scarves, thick socks, and well-insulated boots to cover body parts that are most at risk for frostbite. Make sure kids come indoors regularly to warm up. Change kids out of wet clothing or shoes as soon as possible.

  2. Make sure your kids use a helmet when they are skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding or playing hockey. Wearing a properly fitted helmet designed for the activity, will reduce risk of head injuries by nearly half.

  3. When sledding, make sure the path is clear of people, trees, rocks, fences, or other objects. Always go down the hill feet first.

  4. Check your surroundings. Look beyond the starting point for dangers like roadways, light poles, thin ice or open water.

  5. Never pull a sled behind any motorized vehicle. The object being pulled can travel in an unpredictable path and can cause very serious injuries to its passengers.

Winter Travel

It is important to be prepared when traveling in ice and snow. Check road conditions prior to leaving and keep the following safety tips in mind when preparing for winter travel.

  1. Remove bulky coats and clothing before buckling children in car seats to make sure the harness is sung on the child’s body. Use their coat or blanket to cover the child after they are buckled to keep them warm.

  2. Keep an emergency kit in your car with items such as blankets, water, flares, matches, flashlights and snacks. Check your kit every six months and replace expired items to keep it up to date.

  3. Walk around your car before starting it to make sure your tailpipe is not blocked with snow. Clearing your tailpipe will prevent carbon monoxide from building up inside a vehicle.

Holiday Safety

Decorating your home for the holidays can be a fun activity to do with friends and family. Although it can be fun, it can pose a risk for our little helpers. Follow these safety tips to keep children safe during the holidays.

  1. Do not leave children alone in a room with a lit fire. Actively supervise children around lighted candles, fireplaces or any other sources of flame or heat. Keep matches and lighters out of a child's reach.

  2. Actively supervise children if they are helping you decorate. Many decorations are made of glass and can easily break causing a preventable injury such as a cut.

  3. Make sure your children’s toys are age-appropriate and the batteries cannot be easily removed. Batteries shaped like disks, or button batteries, pose a choking risk to young children.

  4. Check new areas. If traveling for the holidays, check the surrounding area for any hazards. Secure outlets, sharp objects, cords and items that can tip over.

  5. Make sure real trees have a stand that is always filled with water so the tree doesn't dry out and pose an increased fire hazard. If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is made from fire-retardant material.

  6. Don’t tip over! Place the tree stand on flat ground and decorate the tree to equally distribute weight.

Hot Cars

Never leave a child alone in a vehicle even if the windows are cracked or the air conditioning is running. Approximately 40-50 children die each year due to heatstroke after being left in a car. Heat Stroke can happen when the body temperature reaches 104 degrees. A baby’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult body.

  1. Children have died from heatstroke in cars when the temperature outside was as cool as 60 degrees. The inside of a vehicle heats up very quickly, even with the windows cracked. Cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process nor does it decrease the maximum temperature.

  2. Always check the backseat before exiting the vehicle and lock it to avoid children getting into the car on their own. Consider putting your bag or phone in the back seat as a reminder to look for kids or pets in the backseat.

  3. Teach children that vehicles are not a safe place to play. Many accidents happen when children are outside playing without supervision. Make sure vehicle remains locked and the keys are out of children's reach.

If you see a child alone in a car, call 911 immediately!

Safe Kids sign in parking lot saying "Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car" and indicating inside vehicle temperature of 146 degrees Fahrenheit and an outside vehicle temperature of 76.5 degrees Fahrenheit

Printable Tip Sheets

Click on the links below for a free PDF copy of one of our safety tip handouts!