By Kylee Sherod and Karen Johnson, U of M Extension
Growing up on a farm is great for kids as it instills a strong work ethic and high values among them. Each day can be a lesson learned; however, farm life can be dangerous. Just because the farm area is safe for an adult does not mean it is for children. They may see anything as a playground if it is large and colorful. There are ways to take responsibility and make the farm safer for children. Below are ways to protect the safety of your children on the farm.
• Set rules and boundaries for your children. Some areas on the farm should be off-limits. Over-communicate to your children that there are some buildings, gates, and equipment that they should stay away from.
• Have a set play area. Having an area designated for children to play when farm activities are going on is essential. Slides, swings, and more will keep them occupied. This area should be used to keep them away from moving vehicles, machinery, animals, and more.
• Stay away from machinery. Machinery can be dangerous. It is important to remove keys and to not let children play on or around idle vehicles. Quad vehicles should not be used by small children. If used, the child should have safe protective wear on including a helmet and glasses. Remember, one seat means one person. Not only can children be a distraction to the operator, there is also no safe place in the majority of farm equipment for another person.
• Make ladders inaccessible. Even a small fall can cause damage. Keeping ladders stored away from children can protect them from falling. Stay out of lofts. Provide railings for support on any staircase or ladder that cannot be put away from children.
• Keep an eye around water. Water areas draw in many kids’ attention. Tanks, ponds, and streams pose the risk of drowning. Always watch the whereabouts of your child.
• Know animal behavior. -Children are drawn to animals. They can become dangerous if the child does not know how to interact with them. Wear hard shoes when working with livestock and proper safety gear when riding horses. Teach children simple rules about livestock such as how to treat them, where to stand, and what animals to avoid.
• Teach kids about safety. -Children need to be cautious around the farm. Get to know and understand the farm tasks that your children are able to do based on their physical and mental capabilities. Check out the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks for more information at www.
Knowing the importance of farm safety can save your child’s life.