Safe play areas on the farm
I spent a lot of time outdoors when I was little. I jumped into the hay mow, collected frogs at the pond, dug in the garden, and was always around livestock. When you’re a kid, a farm is one big playground.
Tammy Ellis is an education outreach specialist with the National Farm Medicine Center. She says over 3,000 children under the age of ten are injured on the farm every year. The leading causes of injuries include machinery, ATVs, bodies of water, and livestock.
Ellis says one of the best ways to keep your kids safe outside is to have a fenced-in play area.
"We actually recommend that parents choose a site that's away from the majority of the farm traffic, away from animals, equipment, and loud noise, and it's located near the house," says Ellis. "It really needs to be sheltered from the wind, sun, dust, free from pests like bees, snakes and rodents, and free from harmful plants."
As you're planning a designated play area, Ellis stresses that the age of the child must also be taken into consideration.
"We want people to think about the developmental characteristics of children in these different age groups, like 0-2, 2-5, 5-8, and then 9-10. Because there are different safety issues that are involved with each of those age groups, and we do actually have some age-appropriate play ideas for each of those age groups," says Ellis. "We've listed that on our website."
Ellis says the National Farm Medicine Center website has an interactive tool to help parents design a safe play area. It highlights key elements such as fencing, ground cover, play activities, proper distancing between play structures, and injury prevention.
Child Injury Prevention Alliance provides more tips for keeping kids safe on the farm
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