Life saved by a washing line

IT was a routine household task that almost ended in tragedy –had a humble washing line pole not saved her life.Little did mother of two, Samantha Harvey know when she volunteered to mow the lawn she would end the day in hospital - the stunned victim of a freak accident.

IT was a routine household task that almost ended in tragedy –had a humble washing line pole not saved her life.

Little did mother of two, Samantha Harvey know when she volunteered to mow the lawn she would end the day in hospital - the stunned victim of a freak accident.

And nor could she ever have imagined the washing pole in her Ipswich garden would one day save her life.

Because the 35-year-old got the shock of her life, when she ran over an electric cable with a lawn mower.

But, with both hands still glued to the lawnmower's handle, the force of the current flung her into the metal washing line, earthing the current and saving her life.

Today Mrs Harvey, recovering at her Pearce Road home with sons Ben, 3, and Alex, 2, is scarred mentally and phyisically.

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While her wrists and neck bear the burn marks where the current entered and exited her body, she is too scared to go out into the back garden.

She said: "I can get as far as the patio but when I see the washing pole I just can't go any further. The medics said I am lucky to be alive."

Her brother Simon Lafin, who suffered a blast of electricity when he tried to recover her, said: "I turned around to see Sam on the ground. I saw blood coming out of her ears and her eyes fixated. She didn't seem to be breathing and I thought the worst."

Electricity continued to run through her body until Simon turned the power supply off.

He called 999 and was talked though immediate first aid including how to put his sister in the recovery position.

Samantha said: "My body went rigid and my mouth locked. When Simon stopped talking to me I thought I was going to die. The only thing that kept me going was thinking about the boys."

When she was monitored in the ambulance Samantha's heartbeat was racing at 165 beats a minute, double the normal rate.

Today, still stiff and bruised, Samantha is just glad to be alive and keen to warn others of the danger older lawn mowers can put gardeners in.

She said: "I am usually very safety conscious and remember looking at the extension cable and thinking I must be careful not to electrocute myself.

"This wouldn't have happened if I had been using the Flymo but I was using an older push pull mower. People really should take care and use a circuit breaker."

But 48 hours after the accident Samantha is still nervous about sockets.

She said: "I've been made cups of tea though I did use the kettle this morning. I've told my husband I'll do the washing but I can't hang it out. As for mowing the lawn - never again."

Weblink:

www.rospa.co.uk

Fast facts:

Lawnmower safety

According to the ROSPA the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 7,000 people are involved in lawnmower accidents every year, including one fatality last year.

Anyone attempting to mow a lawn should use an RCD, a residual current device - similar to a circuit breaker- available from most DIY shops, which immediately cuts off the current in the event of an accident.

If an accident occurs the power supply must be cut before either the injured person or the cable is touched.

Gardeners should always keep the electrical cable over their shoulder to avoid it falling on the ground

They should also wear stout rubber-soled shoes to prevent toes being injured.

Care must also be taken when trying to free up the mower blades that the mower is unplugged.

ROSPA's Roger Vincent said: "Lawn mower accidents are by far the most common of all garden accidents. It sounds like Mrs Harvey was a very lucky woman."

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