While the beach is a popular getaway spot during summer, the farm is a favourite all year round holiday spot for many Australian families. Visiting a farm can be an amazing opportunity for kids to learn, explore and play; there’s the fresh country air, wide open spaces and plenty of animals to see.
For those of us who don’t live on a farm, it can be easy to forget that farms are not just a home, but in many cases they are also a workplace. There can be large animals (a lot larger than your typical family cat or dog!), machinery (like tractors and motorbikes) and different bodies of water (like dams and animal drinking troughs). This means that farms present a number of unique hazards that you wouldn’t find in a typical suburban home.
In Victoria, around 9 children per week are treated in hospital for an injury that occurred on a farm. National injury information suggests that around ¼ of child farm injury deaths are accounted for by children who are visiting the farm.
Key farm hazards to look out for include:
Water safety - farms can be home to many different bodies of water such as dams, tanks, creeks, rivers, pools and troughs;
Farm machinery and vehicles -the weight, ability to gain speed, potential to tip and sharp attachments, make farm machinery and vehicles particularly dangerous for children.
Farm animals there are several ways a farm animal can injure a child or adult including kicking, biting, crush injuries and injuries received from falling off an animal.
Poisoning chemicals are used a lot on farms to run machines, keep animals healthy, spraying weeds and insects and to keep things clean.
The good news is that whether you are visiting or live on a farm, there are some simple precautions you can take to make sure everyone stays safe.
Having a safe play area on a farm is a great way to reduce children’s access to the kinds of hazards mentioned above. If you are looking to set up a safe play area, it is recommended that the area:
- Is close to the home and clearly visible.
- Is securely fenced with solid or vertical railing, no foot holes for children to climb and child resistant latches on gates.
- Is away from hazards such as dams, machinery, poisons and driveways
- Provides shaded areas.
For more information on farm safety, check out some of the videos, posters and illustrated stories that primary school children across Victoria came up with as part of our farm safety creative competition!