Parents strive to make their homes as safe as possible for
children, but children can face life-threatening dangers literally
'in their own backyards.' Yards, garages, work areas, barns,
etc. may present situations which would not endanger an adult,
but can be deadly to a child. These situations occur not only
on farms but also in cities and suburbs and on acreages.
A July 1999 incident in Lake Wales, Florida points out the dangers to children who play around stored equipment or materials. In this incident, a 4-year-old boy was playing with the family's dogs on a stack of telephone poles that were to be used for building a fence. One pole dislodged from the stack and pinned him, resulting in his death.
Cases to Consider
Examples taken from a 1999 report by the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health also illustrate the results of unsafe storage.
1: Bale Fork Tips Over
A 7-year-old girl died when she was pinned beneath a round-bale fork in the yard of her family's home. The hay fork, which is used to move large round bales of hay, mounts on a front-end loader. It was unattached from the tractor and was sitting in grass next to the driveway with spikes pointing forward. Apparently, the girl was playing on the spikes and the fork tipped over. The weight of a 7-year-old girl was enough to tip over a 300-pound fork because it was top-heavy and unsupported.
Case 2: Shipping Crate Falls
A 6-year-old boy was killed while playing in a building at his home. The boy's father had purchased a piece of equipment that was still in a wooden shipping crate. The boy's older brother had backed a pick-up truck into the building, slid the crate off the edge of the pick-up, and then leaned the crate on edge against a wall. The 400-pound crate had horizontal wooden members, similar to a pallet. The boy apparently was climbing up the side of the crate when his weight pulled the crate over. It fell on him and killed him.
3: Trailer Pins Girl
A 4-year-old girl was killed while playing on a utility trailer. She was reported missing at about suppertime. After a two-hour search, she was found pinned under a utility trailer that had been leaning against a building. The frame had horizontal sections that the child was able to climb; the tongue extended six feet up the wall.
Case 4: It Only Takes an Instant
A Michigan dairy farm couple learned how quickly a near-tragedy can happen.
The wife took their 21-month-old son into the barn where she was going to milk the cows. She didn't bring the playpen she usually kept him in while doing chores. She thought that he would stay close to her because the couple's other three children were nearby.
But the son followed the couple's daughter out to see the family's horse. As the husband was loading the feed cart with the skid-steer loader, he noticed the daughter, but he overlooked the infant son.
As he backed up a hill, the husband felt a bump, which, unfortunately, was his infant son. The couple called for help immediately, and the son was soon flown to the hospital. His only serious injury was a severely broken leg.
The couple said that the experience taught them to be more careful. They said that it was easy for them to take the heavy equipment around their farm for granted. They would never think of letting their children play around similar equipment at a trucking firm or at a construction site, for example.
5: Play Can Be Explosive
A 1989 incident in the Midwest shows the dangers of children playing with what appears to be harmless device.
Two 4-year-old twins were playing while their father filled his pick-up's LP gas converter tank. One of the twins picked up a cattle prod and "zapped" the tank, causing an explosion that severely burned both twins. (LP gas is heavier than air, so the vapors traveled along the ground and were ignited by the spark.)
Although the twins survived, one of them was burned over 55-65 percent of his body, and the other one was burned over 35-40 percent of his body.
The incident could have been avoided if the cattle prod had been stored out of reach of the 4-year-olds.
6: Risks from Broken Equipment
A farmer's close call in 1998 points out another type of danger. The farmer had climbed into the gravity box mounted on a wagon to push corn from the box into a silage bag.
Suddenly, the box tipped off the wagon's chassis, catapulting the farmer away from it. The farmer slammed into the ground and then rolled 15 feet. He suffered a cracked pelvis, but recovered from the injury.
When he inspected the wagon, which he had borrowed from a neighbor, the farmer discovered that the two rear brackets holding the gravity box to the chassis were not fastened. In addition, the right front bracket had been cracked earlier and the weld that had been used to repair it had broken. The left front bracket was fastened, but it had bent when the wagon went over.
If children had been playing on the wagon while it was stored, it might have fallen at that time and the children might have been injured more seriously than the farmer was.
of Other Cases with Stored Materials
Other cases have involved children climbing on tractor tires that were stored by leaning them against the wall of a building. Tractor tires can weigh 1200-1500 pounds.
on bales also has killed children.
How Much Do You Know?
The high-number of farm-related injuries to children shows a need for safety. Test your knowledge with this quick quiz.
1. Usually children are injured on the farm when they are involved in chores or are working? True or False.
2. Identify the four major hazard areas that pose dangers to children on the farm.
3. Children identify with safety habits followed by adults in their daily routines. True or False.
Answers at end of publication.
At least half of U.S. citizens who die from pesticides are children under age 10. Follow these tips to reduce pesticide risks to children:
Falls from farm machinery and in buildings are a major cause of injuries under age 9.
One grandfather walked out of the shed to find his 3- and 6-year-old grandsons at the top of the grain auger system, 60 feet in the air. Fortunately, he got them down safely. His solution was to cut off the bottom six feet of the ladder and install a quick-attach mechanism on the ladder. The lower section of the ladder was then stored in a nearby shed. Thus, anyone needing to use the ladder had easy access to it, but unauthorized climbing was eliminated.
Ladders on silos, grain bins and similar structures that go all the way to the ground should be secured in a way that is designed to prevent children from climbing them. A simple barricade can be made with plywood, hinges, and a padlock.
One-third of all entrapments and suffocation in flowing grain involve children under age 14. Follow these tips with grain storage equipment and buildings.
Electricity is always a danger for children. Follow these tips with wiring and electrical equipment.
Designated play areas protect children by isolating them from farm work equipment. However, this does not eliminate the need for supervision.
One play area might be the porch of the farmhouse and the surrounding yard. A fence will reinforce the division between the work and play environments.
Try to provide appropriate play items, such as swings, scale models of farm equipment, toys, a sandbox, or playhouse, that make the play area appealing to children.
The University of Florida agricultural safety specialist has worked with staff at the University of Kentucky to develop a series of interactive stories to provide education about safer practices.
Vicki's Visit concerns a girl who visits her cousins on the farm and comes across a variety of "neat" things to play with.
forms the basis for an activity in which both children and
their parents can participate. The University of Florida Agricultural
Safety program also can provide examples of hazard identification
and walk-around activities that allow children and parents
to identify potential hazards and find solutions.
The "Vicki's Visit" activity and other safety resources may be obtained from the state agricultural safety specialist, or check the Florida AgSafe Network Web site: <http://www.flagsafe.ufl.edu/>.
for Agricultural Tasks
The state agricultural safety specialist also serves a primary adviser for the North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks Project, which in June 1999 published booklets that help parents match their sons' and daughters' abilities with requirements of agricultural jobs.
The guidelines were developed because children often aren't mature enough or coordinated enough to drive tractors, hitch equipment and care for livestock, and the guidelines help parents understand what's reasonable.
A link to the Guidelines can be found at the Florida AgSafe Network Web site:
Sources of Help
You may obtain more information on Agricultural Safety at the Florida AgSafe Web site:
The Florida AgSafe Network -- A service of the Agricultural Safety Program of the University of Florida's Cooperative Extension Service. <http://www.flagsafe.ufl.edu/>
At this site, there are many other resources listed for home and farm safety, as well as emergency and disaster materials.
You may also contact your local county Extension office.
"Be Careful How You Store Equipment," Iowa Fatality Assessment and Casualty Evaluation Center (FACE). On the Web: <http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/face/Alerts/3-Children.htm>
"Children and Safety on the Farm," Cooperative Extension Service, the Pennsylvania State University, 112 Agricultural Administration Building, University Park, Penn., 16802.
"Farm Safety for Young Children" Farm Safe newsletter, July 1992 and September 1992, Cooperative Extension Service, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011.
Rhythm of the Seasons, Marilyn Adams and Mary Kay Shanley, Sta-Kris, Inc., Marshalltown, Iowa. 1997.
"Teaming Up: A Farm Safety Walkabout for Kids," Farm Safety 4 Just Kids National Headquarters, P.O. Box 458, Earlham, Iowa 50072-0458.
Answers to "How Much Do You Know?"
2. Machinery and equipment; livestock areas; farm buildings; farm workshop,
Publication #: AE297
This document is
, one of a series of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
This publication was supported in part by Grant 99020401 from
the National Institute for Occupation and Safety and Health
(NIOSH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the
authors and do not necessarily represent the official views
of NIOSH. First published February 2001. Please visit the
EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Carol J. Lehtola, assistant professor and Extension Agricultural Safety Specialist; Charles M. Brown, coordinator information/publication services; Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville; and Chris Eversole, Public Information Officer, Alachua County, Florida.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/University of Florida/Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean.
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