September 16-20th is Farm Safety and Health Week! Farms and ranches are wonderful places for children and youth to live, work and play. But agriculture is also one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S. We want to cover some of the most important safety tips to keep the farm and your family as safe as possible!
Every day, about 33 children are injured in an agriculture-related incident and a child dies in an agriculture-related incident about every 3 days. Making sure you follow a few simple rules can make all the difference to keep kids safe on the farm.
Keep Kids Away from Tractors
Tractors cause about 40% of all child deaths on farms. When 4 out of 5 toddlers regularly ride inside of the tractor, it might be time to retire the practice. The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health has a simple slogan: “It’s time to break the tradition. It’s easier to bury a tradition than a child.”
Keep young children out of the worksite
Setting up proper areas for children to stay in can make all the difference for their safety. While there is no such thing as a completely safe area, limiting exposure to hazards such as traffic, agricultural production, and environmental concerns will reduce the likelihood of danger. Most importantly, make sure there are physical barriers, like a fence, between the work area and play area. Instead of just telling kids, ‘these areas of off-limits’ go further by discussing the boundaries and why they’re important for safety.
Ensure age-appropriate responsibilities
Any farm-related responsibilities placed on your children should always be age-appropriate. Whether that means trusting to be in the barn by themselves or to keep an eye on toddlers, a misstep could lead to a fatal accident. Parents may have a tendency to overestimate how mature and responsible their own children are, so please be careful not to fall for this trap.
Ensure the environment is as safe as possible
Determine which chemicals are hazardous and always keep them stored behind a locked door. Always be sure to keep children away from equipment that has sharp edges and dangerous elements. Make sure vehicles are kept in their own settings, locked with keys secure and with all hydraulics in the disengaged/de-energized setting.
Teach By Doing
The best way to make sure your children are being safe (even if you’re not around), is to be a model of good behavior. Kids are always watching, so making sure you are always exemplifying safe behavior so that they understand the rules. Showing them good behavior is often a better teacher than saying the rules out loud.