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Kids and farm safety

The 2001 theme for the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety is: "Kids #1 in 2001!"

Bill Brink

Because approximately 100 children and youth die and thousands are injured in farm work accidents annually in the United States, an effort needs to be made to keep kids safe from the dangers encountered in farm work. These dangerous activities include riding on tractors or wagons and activities in and around grain storage bins. Many young children are also at risk when assigned chores with farm animals; others drown in farm ponds and in manure storage facilities.

Here are some of the precautions that farm families should take to ensure the safety of their children:

Do not allow young children to roam freely on the farm. Design a fenced "safety play area" that is near the house and away from work activities.

Inspect your farm on a regular basis for hazards that can injure children wandering on the farm. Correct obvious hazards immediately.

Children who are physically able to be involved in farm work should be assigned age-appropriate tasks and continually trained to perform them. They should also be constantly supervised.

Equip all barns, farm shops, chemical storage areas, livestock pens, etc. with latches that can be locked or secured so children cannot enter.

Always turn equipment off, lower hydraulics and remove keys before leaving equipment unattended.

Never carry children on tractors or equipment, and never invite them into the farm shop, livestock barns, grain bins, etc.

An excellent curriculum is available to help teach farm safety to kids. It's called "Teaching Agricultural Safety to Kids" (TASK) and is a non-profit educational program sponsored by Easter Seals in Illinois. The mission of TASK is to promote the health and safety of children and families everywhere, with the primary focus on the prevention of disabilities. With this training, children can learn to protect themselves and remain safe.

TASK is designed to teach children ages 9-12. Studies show this is the age children begin operating combines and lawn mowers, taking care of animals, and experimenting with hand power tools. Therefore, the risk factor of serious injury for these children is extremely high.

The TASK curriculum is composed of several "hands-on" safety units, an extensive resource appendix, and a strong family component. The units are intended to meet state education goals and may be incorporated into existing classroom curricula.

There are a total of 28 teaching units within the TASK curriculum. Some of these include Handling Emergencies, Chemical and Pesticide Safety, Personal Protective Equipment, Safety Around Animals, Storage Facilities, Lawn Mower Safety, Heavy Farm Equipment, and more. Each unit contains a complete lesson narrative, visual aids, group activities and a student quiz. To help teachers and parents who teach the materials, a lesson preparation page, teaching outline and resource page are provided for every unit.

TASK can also be used as a youth-teaching-youth model. 4-H and FFA members can receive training about the curriculum, and in turn, serve as role models by teaching the program to younger children. Appropriate settings for TASK include elementary schools, 4-H clubs, day camps and farm family events.

Each of the units, including the train-the-trainer materials, is available individually for a cost of $7 each, or the complete set of 28 units can be purchased for $160.

For more information about TASK or to order the materials, contact their office at 2715 South Fourth Street, Springfield, IE 62703, or call (217) 935-9107.

Bill Brink is an Extension Educator, Crop Systems, at the Springfield Extenstion Center, University of Illinois Extension, P.O. Box 8199, Springfield, IL 62791-8199 Telephone: 217-782-6515.


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