Farm kids may be tough, but they?re also accident prone. Approximately 24,000 children a year are seriously hurt on our nation?s farms. That’s an average of 65 a day. The most common causes of injuries to farm kids come from slips and falls, animals, farm machinery and all-terrain vehicles. Children are exposed to the same farm hazards as adults, but they are far less capable of understanding the danger. While parents can’t completely childproof a farm, here are some ways to help keep kids out of harm?s way.
Tractors and machinery. Never let a young child drive a tractor. They?re not developed enough until about age 14. Post ?no rider? decals on tractors and don’t allow passengers. Remove keys when not in use. Secure master shields on PTOs and augers. Always know where children are when backing up, and double-check blind spots. Helmets and roll-bars are essential for ATV safety. Never let a child drive or ride an adult-size ATV.
Livestock. Always supervise children under age 8 around livestock, even when outside a fence. Hard shoes are needed. Beginning about age 5, teach kids that females with new offspring can be dangerous to approach. The same can go for intact males such as bulls, stallions and boars. Even when feeding animals, teach children to plan an escape route.
Grain bins and augers. Never allow children to play in grain, ride in grain wagons or get into bins or hoppers. Grain may look like fun to kids, but it acts like quicksand. One-third of all entrapments and suffocation in flowing grain involve children under age 14.
Child care. Regardless of the hassles and hardships, seriously consider finding child care for kids under age 8 when both parents are involved in farm work.
Farm buildings and potential hazards. Lock farm buildings and don’t allow children to enter alone. Fence farm ponds and manure pits. Cap wells with concrete, and keep firearms in locked cabinets and separate from ammunition storage. Always remove doors from discarded refrigerators and freezers.
Electricity. For children under 3, cover outlets. Keep cords out of reach to prevent burns from chewing on the cord, pulling down appliances and strangulation. Shield all electric boxes and wiring. Unplug tools and appliances after use.