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Want to help your kids? Make farms safe for them

Like almost everyone these days, you're likely inundated with mailings from charities requesting donations. Many of them, in fact, spend more money on mailings and other solicitations than they do on the causes they're supposed to aid.

But in making contributions, either as a farm or individually, one organization you might want to send a check to is Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.

The non-profit organization, which works to promote farm safety for youngsters, was founded by Marilyn Adams, who lost her 11-year-old son in an accident involving a gravity flow wagon of shelled corn.

Today the organization she heads produces and distributes a wide range of educational materials on numerous farm health and safety topics. FS4JK is supported by a chapter network of grassroots volunteers throughout the U.S. and Canada who conduct educational programs and promote the organization's messages of safety.

While growing up on a farm can give youngsters a solid grounding in work ethics and life values, the farming environment can also be a hazardous one, and many children are injured and killed each year in accidents — often the result of doing something beyond their mental, physical, or emotional ability.

Children are vulnerable to many of the same hazards as adults who live or work on farms, but are less capable of understanding the risks involved. Although parents can't completely childproof a farm, FS4JK says they need to do everything they can to make it as safe as possible.

Farm-related childhood injuries and deaths may seem unpredictable and random, but there are definite factors that should play a part in prevention efforts. A study has shown that children ages 10-14 are at the greatest risk for farm-related injuries and deaths.

A federal study indicates most farm youth fatalities involve farm machinery, often attributed to the child's low level of experience with the machinery.

Some steps that can be taken to make your farm safer for youngsters:

  1. Identify the danger areas on your farm. Determine where kids are most likely to get hurt, what may draw them to dangerous situations. Toddlers, for example, may ingest pesticides because of their curiosity and tendency to put things in their mouths.

  2. Set up appropriate rules for children to follow.

  3. Train youngsters in proper and safe operation of farm tasks before assigning those chores. Provide appropriate protective equipment/clothing for each task.

  4. Supervise children according to their age. Children should demonstrate that they are able to follow farm rules before being allowed to perform tasks.

Many injuries and deaths involve children operating or riding on farm machinery and ATVs such as 4-wheelers. There are, FS4JK notes, 40 percent more fatal crashes in rural areas than urban areas, often due to lack of seat belt use, riding in the back of pickups, and generally not following established safety rules.

Protect your precious children by doing everything you can to make your farm safe for them. A wealth of information is available on the FS4JK Web site (, along with information about how you can contribute to their efforts.

e-mail: [email protected]

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