Children do not see the world in the same way adults do. Things like barns, tractors and ponds can look like fun, but can quickly become dangerous for children. Read the important safety tips below to make your farm safer for kids.
- Once you’ve finished with a vehicle or piece of machinery, make sure to lock it and store the keys out of reach. Never let kids play or climb on equipment.
- Teach kids to stay out of the way of equipment and vehicles when in use, especially as kids’ small size can put them in an operator’s blind spot.
- It is not safe for kids (or anyone) to be passengers or extra riders on farm vehicles. Most tractors, lawn mowers, ATVs, and mopeds are designed to hold only one operator.
- The bed of a pickup truck is not a safe place to ride (even for a short ride) because there are no restraints to protect from unexpected stops, turns or crashes.
- When riding in a car or truck, make sure your child is secure in a child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt. Driving on rural roads can be more dangerous than in towns or cities, given the uneven surfaces, hills and curves, as well as the other farm vehicles that could also be on the road.
- Be sure to supervise older kids as they learn to use power tools and equipment responsibly. And don’t forget to make sure they have the right safety gear – goggles, gloves and a seatbelt.
- Pools, ponds or any other bodies of water can be drowning hazards. Install a fence that is at least 4 feet high and has self-latching gates to keep kids out of the area when adults are not around to supervise.
- Remind kids to swim only when there’s an adult watching them—even if they know how to swim. Check out other safe swimming tips here.
- Keep an eye out for other water hazards. Kids can drown in less than an inch of water, which means buckets, water troughs and other areas of the farm where water collects after a heavy rain can be dangerous.
- Be prepared, in case of an emergency. Keep life buoys, nylon rope and a rescue pole near water and make sure that you know CPR. For a class in your area, go here.
- Make sure that all ladders in barns, silos, haylofts and other areas are locked up or put away so they’re out of the reach of children.
- Cover the ground under play equipment with at least 12 inches of safety surfacing, such as mulch, wood chips or sand, to soften the impact of falls.
- Keep tree houses on the lower branches—no more than 10 feet off the ground. Make sure to have solid walls (not guardrails) that are at least 38 inches high.
- Put grills, fire pits and other sources of open flames at least 10 feet from your house, barn or bushes. Don’t let kids play within 3 feet of open flames, and teach them not to play with matches.
- Install smoke alarms in barns and garages. Make sure that you test them monthly and change batteries yearly. Keep a fire extinguisher in each building. Find out more about fire safety here.
- Lock up electrical boxes and make sure kids can’t access electric lines, electric fence controls or other parts of the electrical system. Keep water hoses and troughs away from these things as well to avoid shocks.
- Inspect your electrical system regularly. Look for damage caused by animals, humidity, dust or simple wear and tear. Such damage could cause electrocution or fires.
- Keep all grain storage areas (grain bins, carts, semi-trucks, feed bins or even a pile of grain in the barn) locked up. Stored grain is very dangerous—a deadly flow can start, trapping and suffocating a person in the shifting grain in seconds.
- Farm animals can kick, scratch or bite and cause serious injuries. Learn more about animals and make sure your child understands the best ways to interact with them.
- Don’t forget poisons and chemicals. Keep all chemicals locked away from curious kids and remind them not to eat anything they find without checking with you first. Learn more about protecting kids from poisonous materials here.
- Keep children away from manure pits. Not only are they a drowning risk, but also when manure decomposes, it gives off harmful gases that can be poisonous or even start a fire.
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.
Of the leading sources of childhood death on farms, 42% involve machinery or motor vehicles and 16% are due to drowning.
- National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety