Farm Kid Safety

I don’t like talking about safety, especially farm kid safety, often because I feel like if I’m a poster board for safety that only sets me up to be an awful story of an accident still happened to them? You know? Definitely superstitious about it!

With that said, by popular request, here is a quick brain dump of some of the ideas and protocols we have in our family. I’d love for this to be an opportunity for us to discuss to all learn from each other. Please comment below with your safety precautions!

PS–The checklist can be edited to fit your specific expectations and hung in a great place to have a safety reminder on the farm!

Core Expectations for Farm Kid Safety

Screams are for emergencies. Save them.

Listen first. Ask questions after you’ve listened promptly.

The floor is filthy. Be mindful of your hands, feet, butt and shoes.

Know your safe place, always.

We’re a team. Watch out for everyone, always.

Be aware of your surroundings and happenings. Pay attention to what’s going on around you.

Farm Expectations

All rangers, ATVS, UTVs are in park when stopped. Never exit without using park.

All buttons, levers, steering wheels, etc are for the driver. I do not let my kids play or pretend to drive.

With that said, I show them how to disengage a PTO, hydraulics and shut the machine off for an emergency. We discuss when this might be necessary.

While working we discuss awareness of our surroundings. Who else is working? What is our machine doing? What obstacles are around us? What could be dangerous? How do we stay safe?

All doors of machines are treated as if they would fly open at any moment. We don’t touch or lean on doors.

When in the cab we are buckled in the buddy seat, between my legs, or on the side of the cab floor with no door.

No leaning on front window of combine.

Always buckled when transporting machines.

I’m practicing with Kade how and when to call 911.

We discuss how machines and processes work with the hopes they are aware of what is to come and why.

The farm is near a road. Every time we approach it on foot or in a vehicle where they are forward facing we stop as a group. As a group we all check both directions for traffic two times. In the yard, we check for traffic in both directions before walking or driving anywhere.

While in town, we routinely discuss parking lots. We hold hands, walk with awareness, and watch out for each other when in parking situations.

We discuss a safe place to be when they hear a machine — next to a building where someone can see them. We also discuss standing up and being aware of what the machine is doing.

We discuss mamas wanting to protect their babies. We do not pet calves that have mamas. Kids do not exit the ranger during calving without explicit instruction to do so.

We discuss manure and how to avoid it. When it’s not possible to avoid it we discuss keeping our shoes down and hands clean.

We discuss assessing sturdiness before climbing or using something. I’m very scared they will climb a panel and it will tip on them. I’ve shown them how to check to see if it’s secured and farm culture is to always secure.

We practice often waiting in the ranger while an adult gets out and how that keeps them safe.

We use kid ear muffs when it’s loud to protect their hearing. When they help with a project that calls for eye protection they wear safety glasses.

We do not go in or out of overhead doors while they are moving. We discuss not standing under them and that they would crush a person.

We discuss water. If we can’t see the bottom, we do not know how deep it is. Moving water will sweep us away.

We discuss being aware of an edge and keeping our bodies in a safe place.

We discuss leaving animals alone while they are eating. Especially dogs and cats.

We discuss mice diseases, disease from dead birds and poison.

We discuss safe water to drink comes from a bottle. As of now, I’m not having them drink from hoses because it feels safer to draw the line than to explain when it’s safe and when it could be dangerous.

We discuss keeping our hands on our bodies away from chemicals, treated seed, or anything we are unaware of.

We park our little gators safely. Never behind a vehicle.

When we see a machine we discuss they can see us if we see them. They can’t see us when we can’t see them. We walk far behind and far in front of parked vehicles for this reason.

We only go to get in equipment after the operator has stopped, opened the door, and explicitly motioned us it’s safe to come in.

I used to have them mow on my lap and have since changed our policy. No lawn mowing.

We do not drive up a ditch to get on the road. We always go to an approach, check for vehicles, then get on.

I’ve taught Kade the stop sign so he makes sure we do a complete stop at all intersections.

Overall, I’m trying to talk to them constantly to teach them how to be aware and assess situations on their own.

I didn’t realize how stressful it is keeping them safe on the farm until I’m at my house where no one is coming, going or milling around! But also these kids have noticed things that have helped me so it truly is a family effort.

Adult Safety

Kyle and I share locations on our phones. In the event something would happen we would be one step more prepared.

I always put my phone in my pocket when I get out of the cab of something. Always.

I let people know where I’m going and when. The kids are also expected to do the same.

This absolutely doesn’t cover everything and the farm will always be a dangerous place. However, everything we do wherever we do it carries risk. We are doing our best to learn together and manage it the best we can as a family. Each situation gives us the opportunity to talk about why it’s safe or why it’s dangerous.

Continual conversation around the thought and intention it takes here is something that has made a difference for us.

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