Anyone who has enjoyed farm-life can attest to the joys and experiences attached to it. Fresh air, endless immersion in nature, peace and quiet, exposure to animals, and general freedom to play and explore are just a few of the benefits of growing up on a farm.
However the one downside of farm living, is the risks which children – who lack an awareness of a lot of dangers on the farm – can be exposed to.
In 2017, nine children died on Australian farms. Quad bikes were the leading cause of death, and farm infrastructure such as water tanks and vehicles were other causes of death.
Wrapping kids in cotton wool is not necessarily the solution, as this might detract from the quality of their farm upbringing and the valuable lessons they can learn through it.
There are, however, some measures which all parents and grandparents can take to improve the safety of their farms for children. Fortunately, there are some very clear things which can generally be worked on.
Quad bike safety is an area that affects people of all ages, however children are particularly susceptible to the dangers of quad bikes because they generally lack the physical size, strength, coordination and emotional maturity to operate them.
It is advised that people under the age of 16 do not operate or be carried as passengers on quad bikes. Instead, children and teenagers should be taught how to safely operate two wheelers, as they are less likely to cause serious injury or death.
The two wheelers should be properly fitted for them, and kids should always wear helmets and other protective gear when riding them.
For children aged under five, a secure play area is a must. This is important for kids who either live on the farm or visit them. Sadly, around 30 percent of child deaths on farms involve visitors to the farm. Active supervision by adults is also key when children under five are on the farm.
Overall, based on stats around child deaths on farms, the key areas of quad bike safety and child supervision are where improvements can most be made to improve safety on farms and reduce the number of child fatalities on farms.
Further information can be found at: www.farmsafe.org.au or by contacting farmsafe Australia on (02) 6269 5622 or your state Farmsafe group.