Rural Safety for Children

Down on the farm, life may be sweet. But country living poses many hazards to the unsuspecting family.

If you live in the country or simply enjoy the occasional visit to a farm or ranch, it’s important to keep in mind just how hazardous country life can be. That’s because farms and ranches aren’t just homes, they’re work environments. “Farms and ranches are very dangerous places, particularly for children,” says Brian Lowe of the BC Safety Council. “There’s an awful lot of very hazardous equipment and machinery around. There’s a lot of pesticides and fertilizers around that can produce chemical burns, so it’s a very risky place for children.”

Lowe says it’s when children begin to get involved with farm chores that they’re at their greatest risk. “Children on farms are most vulnerable from about the age of six and up when start to get involved with farm chores. The older they get, the more heavy-duty the assignments, until they’re operating ATV’s and tractors on their own. If there’s a good training process in place that’s not too bad, but if not then it can be extremely hazardous. ”

Laurie LeClair of the Alberta Safety Council agrees that children need to be well trained for their chores. And she adds that the chores must be age appropriate. “When a child is old enough to begin taking on responsibilities such as feeding animals and cleaning areas of the farm, they have to be brought along at their speed. Parents must remember their strength, age and just how much they can retain when learning a new task. Observe them a few times to make sure they do it properly and safely and then move on.”

And it’s not just the curious preschooler or school aged child who is at risk. Infants and toddlers can be in danger if caution isn’t exercised. Lowe says, “infants can fall into pails. They’re very curious. There’s nothing more tragic then an infant toddling around the yard and being immersed in a pile of fertilizer. They can be suffocated, burned or poisoned.”

Finally, LeClair reminds parents that not only do they need to be vigilant but that they need to teach their kids from day one to never take safety for granted. “Farming is a way of life. Often when you have grown up living and working on a farm, you don’t realize that when bringing up a new set of children, these children aren’t as used to it as they are. For them it’s an everyday occurrence; riding tractors, going into grain storage bins, etc. For the children this is a new experience and parents often forget that the children have to be educated the way they once were.”

Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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