Palm Harbor, Florida- Now that we are having warmer weather, Ireland's Nugent's father was doing what so many homeowners do this time of year- working on his yard.

Wednesday night's accident is a painful reminder of how important it is to be safe.

Jeremiah and Nicole Nugent's neighbors said they have trouble processing this horrible accident.

"We're horrified- sick to our stomachs. We hugged our daughters a bit tighter last night," saidDavid Deleuw.

Pinellas sheriff deputies say two-year-old Ireland Nugent's father accidentally backed his riding lawnmower over her Wednesday night, and severed her feet at the ankle.

See also:Mom: Toddler is sedated, doing well after lawnmower incident

"Freak accident- it can happen any time no matter how cautious you are,"Deleuw said of the tragedy.

Daniel Bade with M & M Lawnmowers in Tampa feels one can never be too careful when mowing the lawn.

"You have to keep in mind what you are doing, where you are going, who's around you," he advised.

Bade also suggested mowers to make sure pets and children are out of the way, and that the lawn is free of debris.

According to Bade, riding lawnmowers are equipped with two or three, 22-inch-long, harden steel blades.

"The blade has to come to a complete stop in three seconds, but if that blade is rotating at 50 rotations per second, that's 150 rotations before it comes to a complete stop," he explained.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports say that on average, there are35,000 injuries and90 deathsper year related to riding lawnmowers, and provide safety tips in an effort to reduce these numbers.

According to the commission, one should:

  • Keep small children out of the mowing area
  • Turn the machine off if a child enters the area
  • Look behind and down for kids before, and while moving in reverse
  • Never carry children on the lawn mower
  • Use extreme caution in blind areas near shrubs and bushes

But Bade said people often don't consider the harm lawn mowers can cause.

"They ride on it like it's a go cart- it's not. It's a serious piece of equipment..."

...A piece of equipment that, according to Bade, is required by federal law to have about half a dozen safety features.

"When I drive in reverse, it kills the engine," he said of a riding mower. "There is a safety switch [one has to] push that frees the lawnmower to back up."

Another feature: "If it's running and I try to get off it dies," Bade added.

Experts say before you start doing any serious yard work, get to know your equipment again, read the manual, don't override any safety features when using it, and just like a car you take in for an oil change and checkup, do the same with your lawnmower.

According to Bade, prevention is key to staying safe.

Follow 10 News Reporter Isabel Mascarenas on twitter @IzzyMascarenas

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