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Farm safety for kids important in spring

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 5:27 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Farms in springtime pose a lot of dangers to kids who live or work on them. It is important to remember all the ways a kid can get hurt, and take measures to prevent it.

“Something from the time I didn’t have children to the time I did have children is that, before if I knew the feed was coming, I would park out of the way of the feed truck, and now I park in the way of the feed truck,” says mom and dairy farmer Holly Stankowski.

Stankowski’s family farm has about 70 cows, and they are ready to get out after a long winter.

“Just staying away from the animals when they’re in the pasture, particularly when they have calves. It’s always t-shirts that say ‘mama bear,’ but it could just as easily say ‘mama cows.’ They are protective of their calves,” she said.

The animals, however, are not the biggest culprits of child injury on a farm.

“So, different from our regular dangers with the cattle itself, would be spring fieldwork,” Stankowski explained.

The National Farm Medicine Center says many farmers consider it a tradition to have their children ride along on the tractor, something they say you should never do.

“We recommend that you bury a tradition, rather than a child. Every three days a child dies in an agricultural-related incident, and tractors are the leading cause of those fatalities,” said National Farm Medicine Center Outreach Specialist Melissa Ploekelman.

Stankowski agrees.

“I’m not going to have them in a field with me on a tractor. We’ll hire someone to drive that tractor, or I’ll hire someone to watch my kids. But that’s kind of been a hard stop,” she said.

About 33 children a day are injured in agriculture-related incidents. One thing that aggravates this is if a child is too small or undertrained on farm machinery.

“In Wisconsin, if a youth is going to be driving on a tractor, or using implements of husbandry, it is required that they have a certification from a traffic safety course,” Ploekelman said.

One sure-fire way to keep kids out of danger is to keep them away from heavy equipment, and unable to get to it.

“Make sure that you have a safe play area that your children can go to, and around that safe play area, make sure you have a physical barrier,” Ploekelman said.

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