Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring Farm Safety: Children

Welcome to our first of a series of Farm Safety Blogs by guest blogger Glen Blahey, CRSP, Provincial Farm Safety Coordinator. Thanks Glen!

The sun is out and so are the children.  With more vigour then last year and a curiosity that has grown by 10 times.  So what should we be doing to protect them?  The gut reaction is to say they were here last year and they know.  But the question is; are they really able to recognize all the risks that exist on your farm and are they able to understand cause and effect?

Most child development professionals will tell you that young children have relatively short attention spans and they can not perceive consequences such as a critical injury.  So we should be doing a few things to help our children grow and thrive.

Firstly, boundaries need to be established – no wandering around the farm yard, workshop, barns, sheds and so on unsupervised.  The best solution is a safe play area – an enclosed space that keeps the toddlers from wandering off.  They need a space where they can play and be safe.  The Manitoba Government has a grant program for farm families to help offset the cost of building such areas –

Secondly, children should only accompany adults to work areas when there is someone to continually supervise that child.  If the supervisor is busy working who is watching the child as they explore – and perhaps disappear from sight behind a wheel, into a pen or to the edge of the lagoon?

Thirdly, we all want to share with our children what we do, and they are like gigantic sponges that soak up the mechanical things we do like turn the key in the ignition, unlatch a gate or flip a switch. But before we get too carried away showing 4 year old Johnny how to start the tractor and shift it into gear, we need to remember that it is not a toy, Johnny will remember what we show him, but he will not understand what to do if he wanders over to that tractor when no one is watching and starts it and shifts it into gear.

Our children are our most precious ‘crop’ – protect it. 

The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his states and all their clans are preserved.

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