"STILLWATER, Okla. – Summer break is officially here and for many farm families across Oklahoma this is a busy time of the year. Parents need to take precautions to prevent their children from getting hurt on the farm.
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 300 people under the age of 19 die and approximately 24,000 people are seriously hurt on the nation’s farms each year.
Debbie Richardson, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension parenting assistant specialist, said while parents can teach children about farm safety, they also need to provide a safe environment.
“Parents are anxious for their children to start helping around the farm,” Richardson said. “Young children’s ability to reason and use logic is immature and they can’t apply what is learned in one situation to another situation. They are often overconfident and will do things beyond their abilities to imitate or please adults.”
Although it is not completely possible to child-proof a farm, parents should strive to make it as safe as possible.
Richardson said the key to a child’s health and well being is for parents to provide appropriate supervision.
“Toddlers should never be left alone and must be supervised at all times,” she said. “Even six-year-old children should be monitored from a close distance and checked on every 10 to 15 minutes.”
The NSC’s Agricultural Division encourages parents to not allow children to roam freely on the farm and design a safe play area near the house and away from work activities.
They also recommend the following tips to injury prevention on the farm:
Inspect your farm on a regular basis for hazards that can injure children wondering on the farm. Correct these hazards immediately.
Children who are physically able to be involved in farm work should be assigned age-appropriate tasks and continually trained to perform them. They should also be constantly supervised.
Equip all barns, farm shops, chemical storage areas and livestock pens with latches that can be locked or secured so children cannot enter.
Always turn off equipment, lower hydraulics and remove the key before leaving equipment unattended.
Do not expose children to hazards. Never carry them on tractors and equipment or invite them into the farm shop, livestock barns, grain bins, etc. We all bend this one but I think we use common sense when we do. Each place is a time for education.
“It’s also important to remember prevention includes preparation. Let your children know what to do in case of an emergency,” Richardson said. “The best safeguard against farm injuries is for parents to understand their children’s development and provide a safe place for them.”
By the grace of God none of us got hurt on the farm. Thanks mom and dad. Now stay on me so I make sure I do everything in my power to prevent this myself and help you do the same thing.
Accidents happen but many are easily preventable.