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Keep an Eye on Kids This Week and Every Week
Growing up on a farm is an amazing experience for kids. It teaches them responsibility, compassion, and the value of hard work. Unfortunately, it can also be very dangerous.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 33,000 children have farm-related injuries each year in the U.S., with more than 100 of those injuries leading to death. Of those deaths, 23% involve machinery, 19% involve motor vehicles and ATVs, and 16% are due to drowning.
When going over safety rules with kids and teens, it’s important to revisit them regularly and have an ongoing discussion about safety. Make it a regular part of your dialogue when discussing what chores are to be done.
Which Chores are Safe?
All children are different, so remember to take both their individual physical and mental capabilities into consideration when choosing chores for them. Parents tend to think their kids are capable of doing more than is probably safe.
While some 10-year-olds may be physically large and strong enough to drive a tractor, for example, they likely won’t have the cognitive ability to perceive a potentially dangerous situation or to react in an emergency.
For help determining which chores are appropriate for your kids and a breakdown of suggested chores by age, read Choosing Age-Appropriate Chores.
Know Where Kids Are
It’s always important to keep children away from machinery and know where they are at all times, but that’s especially important during busy seasons with extra equipment like harvest. Anyone driving a vehicle or farm machinery should make eye contact with those outside the vehicle before moving, to be sure everyone is paying attention and knows to stay out of the way. The same rules apply when operating augers and other equipment.
Amanda Corley’s son, Jacob Ross, nearly lost his arm and his life when a farm employee driving a tractor was talking on his phone, lost sight of Jacob, and thought he had moved out of the way. Jacob had dropped his cell phone near the tractor tire and had bent down to pick it up when he was run over.
Corley says while we need to teach kids to stay out of the way, the ones who really need to hear this message are the adults. “Children’s brains aren’t done growing, and they don’t have adult motor skills. They can’t handle panic situations, and that can cost them their lives,” she says. Read her family’s story, Distracted Driving Happens on Tractors, Too.
Monitor Kids’ ATV Use
ATVs are handy for getting many chores done, and they’re fun to ride. They’re also extremely dangerous for kids. Helmets should be worn at all times, ATVs should be properly sized for the rider (learn more about youth-sized ATVs), and no passengers should be allowed.
“ATVs can go 60 or 70 mph. Kids driving cars are required to wear seat belts and take driver’s ed, but with ATVs, we just give them the keys and tell them, ‘Good luck,’” says Ashlee Bruggenschmidt, who lost her daughter, Kate, in an ATV rollover accident. “We don’t require training or safety gear, but we’re working to change that mind-set.” Read her story and see how she’s working to change the ATV laws in Indiana and nationwide.
The third week in September is recognized as National Farm Safety & Health Week. The National Safety Council and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety head up the effort to develop and disseminate educational materials leading up to and throughout the week.
This year, the theme of National Farm Safety & Health Week is Shift Farm Safety Into High Gear. Monday, the focus was on tractor and rural roadway safety, and Tuesday opioid addiction and suicide were highlighted. Thursday will focus on confined spaces in agriculture, and Friday safety and health for women in agriculture. Webinars on these topics will be available each day through a partnership with AgriSafe at agrisafe.org/nfshw-2019. The webinars are free but do require a free AgriSafe account.
More information on National Farm Safety & Health Week, including several safety videos, is available at necasag.org/nationalfarmsafetyandhealthweek/.