OPINION

Health and Wellness: This spring, practice farm safety for youth

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department

Going into spring, be aware that every day, approximately 33 children in the U.S. are seriously injured in an agriculture-related incident, and in Iowa, 20% of farm injuries happen to children. More data and the story behind the numbers can be found on the Iowa State Extension and other agriculture websites. Web pages store.extension.iastate.edu/product/5074 and farmprogress.com/safety/keep-youth-safe-farm are examples.

No matter how much parents respect farm dangers, they can’t expect their children to really understand the consequences of carelessness. Directly teach youngsters safety practices, but realize even after explaining dangers to a child or adolescent, providing a safe environment and supervision is key. Think of rules as safeguards to be used in addition to proper supervision.

As a child grows, more specific cautions need to be modeled and taught. A 2-year-old should be taught to never eat or drink anything you don’t give them. Don’t allow children under eight independent access to livestock, farm buildings or machinery. Consider a fenced play area, and, even if it means extra cost, consider hiring childcare during busy times. Teens are often overconfident and get themselves into situations beyond their ability to reason. Couple this with an ever-present cellphone, and you have an accident waiting to happen.