With schools closed, parents around the country must find new ways to occupy their children at home all day. For already-busy farm parents, it’s an especially taxing challenge.
Added to that dilemma is the fact that with more young people around the many moving parts of a farm, the risk of injury climbs. A pandemic is bad; potentially dealing with a child’s injury on top of it would be exponentially worse. With care and preparation, though, accidents can be prevented.
The dangerous alternative
Farm accidents happen more often than many of us might think. Ag Injury News, a project of the National Farm Medicine Center, is the largest public database of agriculture-related injuries, combining media reports from thousands of communities. It is referenced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and in 2019 alone added over 1,000 entries.
Three years of data analyzed from 2015 to 2017 and encompassing 348 youth injuries (ages 0 to 17) showed that vehicles, such as tractors and ATVs, and machinery were the most frequent source of injury.
What farm parents can do
Preventing an accident for a child around the farm largely comes down to how adult employees are kept safe, and that’s with proper training. Training includes all of the following:
- If a child is working on the farm, assigning a job appropriate for their age. These guidelines from the National Children’s Center provide safe reference points.
- Identifying and minimizing safety risks in farm tasks. Discuss and decide what their best options are should the situation become dangerous. If the child will be alone, it’s a good idea to have some form of communication in place in case of emergency (like a cellphone or radio).
- Instructing proper technique for jobs, particularly ones that involve being around livestock or equipment. Understanding animal behaviors can help predict and protect against potential threats. Make sure any older children driving equipment are comfortable, experienced, and taking all proper safety measures.
- Providing supervision when necessary.
A designated play area can help keep younger children from getting in harm’s way. Educational lessons, such as virtual tours that have become more prevalent in the last month, may be a useful option for elementary-aged children.
Spending a childhood around agriculture provides many benefits. A safe experience can help the following generation enjoy those benefits, too.