Agriculture is one of the few (if not the only) industries where the work place is the same as the home. Kids don’t live on the construction site or at the mine, but they live on the farm.
For that reason, agriculture presents a unique set of challenges for kids and their parents. Just stepping out the front door opens a world of – potential – hazards for farm kids that any other kid wouldn’t be exposed to until they’re older, if ever. It can make for a dangerous situation when combined with a child’s natural curiosity and lack of experience.
Here are a few things you can do to minimize the risk for kids on the farm:
Establish a defined play area:
– Fence it off if at all possible
– If not, create a specific boundary using landmarks (trees, buildings, etc.) and walk it with your kids
– There can be more than one safe play area! Besides their swing set, for example, outline a safe play area in the barn, in the machine shed. Just be careful not to assume that’s always where they’re going to be. Which leads to…
Minimize their exposure to hazards:
– Naturally livestock will be contained behind a fence.
– Most crop fields are fenced as well, keeping kids away from machinery at work.
– Fence off or cover manure pits.
– Store chemicals in a secure, locked building or cabinet.
– Install ROPS and PTO shields on every tractor.
– When asked if they can go for a ride on the tractor – tell them no if you don’t have an instructional seat.
– Supervision, not only for toddlers but also for older kids whenever a new task is assigned.
Make safety a priority:
– If safety is a part of the way YOU view the farm, it will reflect in the way your kids approach the farm.
– Take your kids on walk, point out hazards and explain the do’s and don’ts.
– Make sure to have appropriate personal protective equipment and ask/mandate that your kids wear it.
– Say no if your kids ask for a tractor ride and you don’t have an instructional seat. (That’s a tough one.)
Kids want to follow in your footsteps. Make sure the path is a safe one!