Animals can often be a child’s favorite part of living on or visiting a farm. But some animals can be unpredictable. Read below to help make sure your child knows how to be safe around animals.
- Show children the right way to behave around animals: move slowly, be calm, approach from the front. Kids should stop when they are close enough for the animal to sniff them and should only get closer if the animal remains calm.
- Remind kids that all animals can be unpredictable. Even the sweetest ones can become dangerous if they’re sick, upset or hurt, so it is important to recognize these situations and be extra careful.
- Teach kids to stay away from baby animals (a mother protecting her young can become defensive), as well as adult males and wild animals (both tend to be naturally more aggressive).
- To reduce the risk of head injury, kids should wear a helmet when riding horses. Boots with a small heel can also help keep their feet in the stirrups as they ride and reduce their chances of being thrown from the horse.
- Children should wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts or jackets, as they offer a layer of protection from sharp beaks, claws and toenails. And to protect feet, wear closed-toe shoes (steel-reinforced boots are best).
- Make sure children wash their hands with soap and water (or use hand sanitizer in a pinch) after they interact with animals. That way they don’t spread a virus or bacteria the animal could be carrying.
- Know the best escape route whenever you’re working around animals, so you can easily get out of harm’s way if the animal gets upset.
- Show children how to protect themselves if an animal attacks. They should drop to the ground, roll into a ball, and cover their heads and faces with their arms.
- If an animal bites your child, wash the area with soap and water and apply pressure. If it’s bleeding, contact your doctor to check for infection and diseases.
- It’s important not to approach an angry animal unless the injured person is in immediate danger and you’re able to get him/her out of harm’s way without getting hurt. Call 911 immediately.
- Living on a farm could mean that you’re farther away from help if something happens. Make sure that you have quick access to a phone and clear directions to your location in your home, in the barn, and other facilities to help save time in an emergency.
1 out of every 5 youth farm injuries in the U.S. is animal-related.