Nothing is more important than keeping our children safe. Make sure you’re following these suggestions on your farm
So many things on our farms are small in size. Yet their size can hide their danger. This is especially true for our children. Something we would not consider a hazard to an adult can be deadly to a child.
Get a new perspective
If you look around your home, shop, barn or equipment try this experiment. Look at it from your perspective. Tall, strong, adult. Now get down on your knees, or lower, and see it from the eyes of a child. Remember to be curious and touch oriented. Remember most young children need to feel, and taste things. If it goes in their hands, it will find its way to their mouths.
Did you see those cords hanging down that could snag a small person? How about that brightly coloured wrench handle just over the edge of a workbench? Not quite out of reach, but if it fell on their head or face it could cause serious injury. How about that bright light from the welder, or those sparks from the grinder? The bucket of water, grease, used oil or bolts is no danger to you. But it is a drowning, toxin and choking hazard to a child.
Sprays of paint or lubricant seem very interesting but are also terribly unsafe in little hands. As are livestock tools such as tattoo guns, ear taggers, medicines, medicated tags and vet supplies like needles.
Our little farm helpers want to be big farmers, and don’t understand they are not old enough or strong enough to do what Grandpa, Daddy, Uncle or Mama do. We have to keep them safe while we teach them about their farming heritage and get them ready to safely work on the farm one day.
You know about not letting children near PTOs, augers, belt operated machines or letting them drive equipment. But what about being “helpers” when we fix things? Most safety gear is not made for children — the majority of it. With good reason. Our children shouldn’t need it, they shouldn’t be in harm’s way. But if they are helping you on the farm they need to wear the proper gear. That means well fitting clothing in good condition. Nothing frayed or worn that can get caught in tools or machines. Closed toe shoes. Hats and safety glasses. Hair needs to be kept back.
Children should not help when you are working livestock. Let them watch from the truck or outside the pen on their trusty horse with an adult supervising them. Children can be seriously injured by livestock, and they can cause a distraction you don’t need when you are being safe with animals.
Make sure your children wash up properly after being out with you farming. Chemicals can be absorbed much faster in little people than adults. When you are working, keep your children safe from the elements. You might be able to tough it out, but they shouldn’t have to. Keep them, and yourself, hydrated. If you are working in extreme temperatures remember your children will be impacted harder and quicker than you. If you are feeling it, you know they are. Have snacks and breaks to relax and have fun. When they get tired, get them back to the house. When you get tired, you should rest too
The small things can make all the difference when we are family farming. That can mean watching out for small but deadly hazards, and it can mean making time together with the small farmers in your family safe and memorable. Teaching good farming habits should include safety.
Watch safety videos, make sure your children know they are important. Set rules, and consequences, and keep both. Make sure they understand the rules are to keep them, and you, safe.
Be creative — use turf paint to mark “no go” zones around equipment like augers and PTO’s. Use flags or flagging tape. Make sure they have a safe area to play and be children. Ask someone to watch them when you are doing dangerous jobs. The most precious resource we have in farming is our next generation. Keep them safe. †