Tools to help keep kids safe on the farm this summer

The value of hard work and a sense of responsibility and pride in a job well done are characteristics all parents want to nurture in their children. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing your child accomplish great things through hard work and determination.

Farm kids are lucky because they see first hand how to accomplish tasks successfully, be stewards of land and livestock and take pride in hard work. But do you know how to keep them safe from the hazards on the farm?

First off, having a really good handle on child development levels, abilities and limitations, as well as when and how to set clear rules and boundaries is the first step in ensuring everyone stays happy, healthy and safe.

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While farms can’t be completely childproofed, farm families can work to establish safe play areas where little ones can explore, learn and play without the risk of being hurt. We all know that small children are incredibly curious. Their little minds and bodies are growing and absorbing the big, wonderful world around them all the time.

Something as simple as a blade of grass can be fascinating. A small bug or butterfly can send their imaginations soaring. Livestock, farm equipment and other potential hazards can also be intriguing, exciting and fascinating. That’s why it’s so important to set boundaries and establish rules and guidelines around play areas on the farm.

By having a safe play area, children can experience the joys of play and reduce the risk of injury on the farm. A safe play area should be designated by physical barriers such as fences, gates or shrubs. It’s important that the play area is away from the majority of farm activity. Keep in mind traffic, livestock, farm machinery, open water and noise when deciding where the play area should be located. Other factors to consider include access to shade and safe play equipment and protection from pests. Of course, a safe play area is no substitute for proper supervision.

Older children want to help out. Often, they’re eager to help with all sorts of chores — but sometimes they just aren’t ready. Maybe they aren’t big enough yet or emotionally mature enough to handle some of the tasks. Even older youths need guidance, supervision and training before taking on complicated farming tasks. That’s where tools like Ag Youth Work Guidelines come in. These guidelines can help farm families determine what tasks children and youths are capable of.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association in partnership with BASF Agricultural Solutions Canada has built a “For Kids” online resource page, which can help farm families talk with kids about farm safety, build a safe play area and determine appropriate agricultural tasks.

There are other great resources like a tool box just for kids. It’s customizable for your farm and situation. It’s a great way to get children involved in safety on your farm. Also available is a farm safety contract for farm families, a tool intended to start the conversation about farm safety. You’ll also find links to Ag Youth Work Guidelines, an online, interactive game on grain safety and even colouring and activity sheets.

For more information about farm safety and to access the For Kids farm safety resources, visit casa-acsa.ca.

About the author

Contributor

As a national, non-profit organization, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) promotes farm safety in the agricultural sector.

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