With schools closed and access to activities limited due to the Covid-19 restrictions, many children are now spending more time on the farm than ever before.
Even if your kids have grown up on the farm, that doesn’t change the fact that a farmyard is a workplace and there are many hidden and obvious dangers for your little ones. With the summer reaching its peak and children spending more and more time outdoors, here are some simple tips to help them to stay safe.
Remind them that while there’s lots of space to play, there are some areas that are always off limits. Farms are not playgrounds and educating your kids about the areas that are off limits will help to keep them safe.
Take a walk around the farm with your children and point out the dangers, showing them the places where they’re allowed to play. They may already know where they can and can’t play but it’s no harm to remind them.
• Point out the warning signs and barriers.
• Show them where water and slurry are stored.
• Remind them that all machines are off-limits.
Give them a high-vis vest or other reflective gear when they go out after dark.
Of course, the kids want to help out around the farm and it’s fun to let them. However, just make sure their jobs are age-appropriate and that they are always supervised.
Children love to be around the farm animals and while they aren’t ferocious, they can be unpredictable and dangerous if a child is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
• When moving cattle, make sure the children are standing away from gateways.
• Remind your children that a cow who is trying to protect her babies could get scared and try to attack. Even if an animal isn’t trying to hurt someone, their sheer size can make them dangerous to children if they’re in the way.
• Slurry pits and lagoons should be safely secured, and children should never be in the yard during slurry agitation or spreading.
• Keep sheep dips and water tanks covered when they’re not in use.
• Do a risk assessment on the farm and look out for areas that are a drowning risk within the farmlands and the yard.
• Make sure all gates and pillars are secured and won’t fall over if the kids try to climb over the gate instead of opening it.
• Lock and secure all chemicals so they’re out of reach of children.
• Anyone under the age of 16 should never operate self-propelled machinery or power-driven machinery with cutting, splitting or crushing mechanisms.
• Children over 16-years-old should receive formal training before they’re allowed to operate tractors.
• Make sure keys aren’t left in the vehicle and controls are left in neutral.
• Lower any loaders to the ground and apply the hand break.
Refresh everyone’s mind on basic first aid, especially the kids. Take comfort that if they’re in a situation where someone gets hurt, they’ll know what to do. Knowing to ring 112 and 999 or to put pressure on a wound could help them to help others in an emergency.
Climbing is something children love to do, but it can obviously pose a huge danger.
• Stop access to areas at height and enclosed pens.
• Store ladders flat on the ground to prevent kids from climbing them.
• Supervise children who are inside the tractor cab to make sure they don’t fall from the door or the rear window.
• Remind them not to climb on bales or tyres. They may look fun but they aren’t secure and could easily tumble.
It’s more important than ever for your children to wash and scrub their hands properly.
• When they return home from playing on the farm, make sure they wash their hands as soon as they come inside and always before eating.
• Animals can also transmit diseases, so make sure children wash their hands after contact with animals, their housing or their feed.
Exploring the farm is what most young farmers love to do, so reminding them of the ways to stay safe will help them (and you!) have safe fun and peace of mind.
For more tips on smart farming, visit the AXA Farm website.