It’s that time of year when a farm kid’s thoughts turn from school and homework to having fun.
Most of us who grew up on farms can attest that there is no better place for kids to have some fun than on a farm.
I cherish the memories of endless days playing on the farm with my cousins Cathy and Carol. We went on countless daily adventures — finding tadpoles, riding bikes, playing in the sandbox, catching butterflies, building forts, picking bouquets of red clover and dandelions, riding our ponies bareback, catching fish with butterfly nets in the creek and doing chores. From sunup to sundown, we were “busy” having fun, stopping only when we heard my Aunt Marion holler “Girls!” from the back porch at the end of the day. That meant it was time to go home, take a bath, eat supper and go to bed so we could get up the next morning and do it all over again.
I don’t think either of our mothers, who lived next door to each other, had a clue where we were or what we were doing most of the time! When I think now about all the things that could’ve happened, it’s amazing all three of us grew up and raised our own families on farms.
Older and wiser
Being much older and wiser, I was a lot more cautious as a mother of four boys than I was as a girl growing up on the farm. As a mother, I realized what I didn’t as a child: Farms can be dangerous places for kids. The proximity of play areas to powerful equipment and animals, coupled with hectic work schedules, often poses substantial risks for kids on the farm.
Each year, 104 children, from newborn to 19 years old, are killed in farm accidents, according to Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.
That organization’s statistics show that boys have an almost sixfold higher rate of death than girls. Farm machinery accounts for one-third of deaths, with the highest proportion among children ages 5 to 9. Drowning accounts for almost one-quarter of deaths.
Now that school is out, it’s important to set, enforce, and reinforce rules and safety requirements on the farm.
Following is a list of tips from Farm Safety 4 Just Kids to help keep your kids safe this summer:
• Provide a safe play area that is more interesting than a farmyard.
• Keep all machinery in good shape, shielded properly and stored securely.
• Supervise children, and coach them in age-appropriate tasks.
• Set a plan of action for emergencies, and explain it to children.
• Be a conscientious and safe role model.
• Cut grass on slopes carefully, so you don’t slip, fall or overturn the mower and come in contact with spinning blades. That means you should push a mower across slopes.
• Keep cool. Accidents are more frequent in the heat because physical performance and mental alertness are reduced.
• Wear seat belts. Surveys show that seat-belt usage in rural areas is lower than in urban areas, especially among occupants of pickup trucks.
• When transporting large round bales, try to keep the bale on the upside of the tractor. This will provide the best stability for the tractor to prevent an overturn.
• Don’t ride in the back of pickup trucks.
• Use good judgment and practice good housekeeping on and around equipment to prevent slips and falls. Falls are responsible for many farm workplace injuries. They become more dangerous around equipment.
• Always shut off the PTO before attempting to clear plugged equipment. Pull-in injuries usually occur when someone tries to remove plant material or other obstacles that have become stuck in feed rolls or other machinery parts. Once the material is freed, it can pull a person into the machine faster than they can react.
Thinking safety first can prevent senseless deaths and injuries on the farm. Have a fun and safe summer with your children and grandchildren.
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