As summer approaches and children will be home from school for a few months, it is important for farm families to think about safety issues around the farm. Many people often think of the farm as a perfect place to bring up a family. It is an environment that offers fresh air, sunshine and lots of wide open spaces for children to play. The farm is however one of the most dangerous places for young people. Farming is not like any other business. It is often difficult to keep children away from the workplace. It is up to farm parents and owners to educate their children about the many dangers around the farm. Here are a few suggestions for protecting and educating young people about farm life supplied by the Farm Safety Association of Ontario.
-- Every spring and fall, take your children on a safety walk around the farm.
-- Hold family discussions on the safety rules that must be observed in and around the farmyard.
-- With the children in attendance, post warning stickers on machinery, bins, augers, power poles, wells, fuel tanks etc.
-- Tractor and machine operations must be strictly off limits to young children.
Properly train and supervise young people before allowing them to operate machinery or drive tractors. Teenagers should only operate machinery when they are physically big and mature enough to handle the equipment.
-- Refuse to take passengers on tractors and implements. Be firm. Remember one seat equals one operator.
-- Explain the meaning of hazard symbols.
-- Store hazardous chemicals in locked cabinets.
-- Keep protective shields on machinery at all times.
-- Enclose manure pits and farm ponds with fences and post warning signs.
-- Place heavy concrete lids on wells and septic tanks.
-- Place machinery components, electrical boxes and wiring out of reach of small children.
--Children must be properly supervised in the vicinity of large animals.
-- Provide a fenced play area near the house.
-- Store portable ladders away from such danger areas as silos and grain bins. Fit the bottom of fixed ladders with special barriers.
-- Before starting equipment, make sure no one is behind, under or in front of the machinery.
-- Any equipment that might fall such as front end loaders, combine heads etc. should be completely lowered to the ground or securely locked in position.
-- Always leave a tractor's PTO in neutral.
-- Store firearms unloaded in a locked cabinet. All guns should be fitted with trigger locks.
Take an afternoon to explain safety procedures to your family members and ensure a safe and happy summer for your family.