Creating a designated play zone on the farm is one of the best ways to keep children safely away from danger. The ideas below let kids be kids, and grown-ups rest a bit more easily.
- Create a dedicated play area that can be fun for young children and keep them away from hazards like traffic, water, farm equipment and animals. It should be in an area where an adult can easily supervise.
- Have a variety of activities available for kids. A swing set, sandbox, sports gear and more can ensure they have hours of fun.
- Use a fence or a set of closely planted shrubs to keep kids from wandering out of the play area.
- Cover the ground with at least 12 inches of safety surfacing like mulch or wood chips to soften the impact of falls.
- Keep an eye out for any issues in the area, such as broken toys, damaged play equipment or sharp rocks.
- Make water areas safer. Install a fence that is at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of pools, ponds, or any other bodies of water. Use a self-closing, self-latching gate to make sure children do not access these areas unsupervised. Learn more about swimming safety.
- Teach kids to ride safely with the right protective gear. Helmets are a must, whether you’re riding a horse or a bike. Read about safer bike riding here.
- During the winter, help kids find places to sled that are away from ponds, fences, trees and traffic. Before ice-skating, kids should have adults check the thickness of the ice on the pond or lake to make sure its safe. For both activities, kids should wear a helmet.
- Be sure children stay away from barns, silos and places where farm equipment or tools are stored. These are not safe places to play.
- 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.
- Often times, golf carts or utility carts are used to get around the farm, children should be at least 16 years old to drive and 6 years old to ride as a passenger on them.
- 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.
Each year, almost 14,000 children are injured on a farm in the U.S. The majority of them were not working when the injury occurred.