Farm safety a high priority for young people

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As we enter the spring farming season, we should be aware that every day some 33 children in the U.S. are seriously injured in an agriculture-related incident, and in Iowa 20% of farm injuries involve children.

More data and the story behind the numbers can be found on the Iowa State Extension and Outreach website and other agriculture websites and safety website.

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 that 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 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.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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