The 2012-2013 school year is here, and our children will be on the go, both in school and on the farm. The fall season is a very active time of year for kids in rural and agricultural communities. The start of school athletics, county fairs and 4H projects will keep a lot of kids busy. With all of these things on their minds, our children may forget to watch out for safety hazards and avoid unsafe situations on the farm.

Many accidents occur when children are doing something beyond their mental physical or emotional ability. Age appropriateness is a key factor in protecting children doing chores on a farm. Proper training and following age-appropriate guidelines must be considered for the following activities; ask yourself these questions:

• Tractor Operation– Are they trained correctly and mentally ready for the task? Children should not operate tractors or any farm equipment without having been properly trained. All children eight years old and above should know how to turn off a tractor PTO.

• Four Wheeler Operation– Are the really old enough? Do they wear a helmet? Four wheelers should only be driven by children old enough to handle them, and they should always wear a helmet. Never operate the four wheeler with riders, stay off of paved highways and avoid hazardous areas.

• Animal Feeding and Handling– Do they do this chore alone? Is the animal facility safe and in a good state of repair? Have any aggressive animal behaviors been observed? If at all possible, children should not be doing chores such as this alone. Be sure that you have checked the animals and the area well enough to ensure your child’s safety.

• Chemical Use and Contact. – Are all chemicals such as pesticides properly marked and stored safely? Has any chemical recently been used in the area? Please be sure to keep all hazardous chemicals out of the reach of children.

• Grain Bin Safety– Are all entry ways to bins and silos secure? Be sure that they are and lock out all electrical power when not needed.

• Fire Arms– Have the children been properly trained in fire arm use, and do they have respect for the weapon? Are fire arms easily accessible? Be sure to train your children in the proper use and respect for weapons. Never leave a loaded gun where a child can reach it! This will help to avoid tragic accidents.

• Pond and Water Safety– Is your child swimming alone? Instruct your children that they should never swim alone. Know where your children are at all times.

These are just a few of many safety issues for children on the farm. The best way to protect your children is to provide a safe “age appropriate” place for them to play. Younger children, of course, should be more closely supervised.

A special thank you to the Farm Safety 4 Just kids Program, Urbandale, Iowa.