Farms are fun places — with all that fresh air, sunshine, and room to run around. But they're also places where real work gets done. And some of that work involves equipment that can be dangerous if someone doesn't know how to be safe.
Kids who live on farms really need to know what it takes to be safe. They probably help out on the farm and need to know the safety rules that can prevent injuries. According to the National Safety Council, farming is one of America's most hazardous jobs. Kids ages 10 to 14 are at high risk for injury, often because they take on a job or task that they aren't ready to handle.
If you do work on a farm, listen to parents or other supervisors. Be careful where you play and don't go out to work on the farm on your own. Make sure to keep your family informed about where you are on the farm. If you're helping out, don't try to use equipment or tackle big projects if you haven't been properly trained. If there's a job you really want to do, such as driving a tractor, you'll probably have to wait until you get a little older.
Safety Around Equipment
Take a look around any farm. How many different pieces of equipment do you see? And how many are bigger than you are? These machines may look pretty cool, but the bottom line is that kids should not operate farm machinery.
Pickup trucks, tractors, threshers, lawn mowers, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are powerful machines. But these machines and all other types of farm equipment are not safe for kids to ride on (even with an adult present), play on, or even be around, no matter whether they are in use or not. It's really easy to get thrown from a tractor, thresher, or riding mower.
Here are some more tips to remember around equipment:
- Never ride in the back of a pickup truck or on the fender of a tractor.
- Never get on a tractor as an extra rider.
- Stay out of the path of moving equipment.
- Don't use electric power tools without adult supervision and always use protective equipment like gloves and goggles.
Safety Around Animals
One of the greatest things about farms is how many different kinds of animals are there — like pigs, cows, horses, sheep, and chickens. But these animals are different from dogs, cats, or other house pets. Farm animals are often bigger (horses and cows, for instance). And whether they are big or small, they may not be friendly to people. A horse might kick you, for instance. All farm animals need to be treated with respect and care.
When you are around farm animals, be calm, move slowly, avoid making sudden jerks or movements, and always approach them from the front so they can see what you are doing. Don't scream or run around them because it will upset them.
Here's some more advice to follow when you're around animals:
- A mother with her young will be protective and she may attack anyone who comes close.
- Always wear a helmet and other protective gear when riding a horse.
- If you want to approach an animal, ask an adult who knows the animal to approach it with you. The animal will be less nervous and less likely to become upset.
And after you've been around farm animals, be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap. Animals can carry germs that cause infections. If you get those germs on your hands and then touch your mouth or eyes, you might get sick.
Safety Around Poisons, Chemicals, and Fertilizers
Kids shouldn't be in contact with poisons, chemicals, or fertilizers. But how do you know if something is dangerous to touch or smell? The label may say "caution," "poison," or "danger." Some of these chemicals are toxic (say: tok-sik) or poisonous.
Stay away from areas where these dangerous substances are stored and never open the containers. If you have younger brothers and sisters, be sure they don't touch these items either. If they have easy access to them, you might want to ask your parents to store them somewhere else, where little hands can't reach them.
Manure (the excrement, or poop, of livestock) is often used on farms as fertilizer for the soil. Although many people consider it to be safer than chemical fertilizers, in large quantities and in enclosed spaces manure can produce deadly gases. Kids shouldn't work with manure or be around manure pits or storage areas.
Safety Around Storage Areas
In addition to all the temptations of equipment and animals, farms may have a barn or storage areas separate from the house. They may seem like great places to explore — but you need to be careful there, too. It's easy to fall from ladders and lofts in barns and storage areas. Storage areas should be locked to keep out kids and other people who shouldn't be there.
Never ride on a grain wagon or enter a silo or grain bin. It's easy to be trapped by flowing grain, and the closed storage areas can fill in seconds and lead to suffocation.
What to Do in an Emergency
Sometimes, even if you follow all the rules, there can be an accident. Knowing what to do in an emergency can save someone's life. Ask your parent about learning CPR. If CPR classes for kids are available in your community, you should be sure to learn these life-saving skills.
If someone gets hurt while using equipment:
- Turn off the equipment right away (if it is safe to do so) and call for help.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number to get assistance. Be ready to tell the person who answers what the problem is and exactly where the accident happened.
Stay on the line until the operator tells you it is OK to hang up.
- Don't move the person by yourself unless he or she is in danger and you won't get hurt doing so. The person might have a head or neck injury, and moving him or her can make these injuries worse.
If someone is hurt while around an animal:
- Don't approach the angry animal. Call out for help right away.
- Don't move the person by yourself unless he or she is in danger and you won't get hurt while moving the person.
If someone gets hurt by a chemical or other substance, ask an adult to call the poison control center or 911, if necessary. By knowing farm safety rules, you can protect yourself, your friends, and family on the farm.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2016 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.