Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Making the farm a safe place for children

During the summer months there are many extra small helping hands on farms, as children relish their freedom.

Any of us who grew up on a farm well remember how the freedom of the school holidays felt, flinging that schoolbag away into the darkest of corners, now free to roam and explore.

But as the number of farm family members based on the farm increase over the summer, so too can the dangers.

Lasy year, five children died in farm accidents.

School might be out for summer, but the farm has so many hidden dangers, some of the rules of school need to be modified and adopted.

Some zones should be highlighted as 'no go' areas so that children are aware of the boundaries within which they can safely play.

Be a safety mentor to the little ones. Sit down with them and get them to list all the danger zones as they see them.

By laying out a map of the farmyard children can mark off the 'out of reach' zones with an X.

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Nothing beats hands-on learning and visual aids.

After the map/paper exercise, walk children around the farmyard and point out dangers as already marked with an X and also mark these dangers on the ground.

Act as referee as your children become the linesmen, marking off danger areas as you go with child appropriate paints/chalks and get them to make danger signs.

By explaining they are more likely to listen and learn. It will also make the farmer more aware of the dangers from the perspective of the child.

Beware of hazards

Hay, silage and turf saving and taking home are the summer jobs when youngsters are most active.

All these jobs can be fun but adults need to point the dangers out and not leave youngsters unsupervised.

On the farm there are natural and manmade hazards - the aim should be to be aware of the hazards and reduce the risk of each

• Children need to be made aware the unpredictability of livestock. The importance of staying clear especially when animals have young. Children need to learn that they protect their young like farmers do theirs.

• Bale making, bale transporting and bale stacking, are jobs that the young love to be involved in. But make them aware of the risks. Bales can easily become unstable.

• Keep keys to all vehicles locked safely away

• Farm machinery is there for a purpose. Quad bikes are also for the purpose of farm work - they are not 'toys for boys'.

• Make wearing protective gear/helmets the norm. Always wear a helmet when on a quad. The difference could be your life

A child's body is even more fragile and less well developed. All it takes is for one small mishap, a simple trip or fall to ruin a youngster's life.

Never leave youngsters unsupervised - after all they are always supervised in school.

Never take a risk with you or your children that you live to regret.

Indo Farming