Working with animals on a farm setting can be a very dangerous task, especially for children. In order to keep kids safe in rural, farm or ranch settings, it is important for adults to teach children of the dangers animals pose and how to safely interact with animals.
"The best piece of advice is to teach your children to stay away from farm animals completely unless they have adult supervision. Farm animals can be very unpredictable and can often engage in dangerous behavior, putting you and your child at risk," says Bernard Geschke, program specialist with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation.
There are many ways to avoid injury when dealing with animals. How can parents teach their child about dangerous-animal warning signs and situations? Geschke offers these rules parents can share with their children:
* Stay away from mothers with young offspring. It is a normal instinct for a mother to protect her baby, and if startled or threatened, a mother animal could move to protect her baby, becoming very dangerous.
* Be quiet and calm. When around farm animals, be calm, move slowly, avoid making sudden jerks or movements, and always approach them from the front so they can see what you are doing. Don't scream or run around them because it will upset them.
* Don't interrupt animals that are eating. Animals may become aggressive if they feel that their food supply is being threatened.
* Stay away from farm animals. They can be unpredictable and should be treated with caution at all times. Watch out for animals with raised or pinned ears, bared teeth, raised hair on the back or tail or those that are pawing at the ground, stomping or snorting. These are signs that the animal is in an aggressive or upset state, and it is best to stay away from them during those times.
Safety tips such as these are examples of the things children learn when they attend safety programs offered through their local ISU Extension office that may be sponsored by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation and local partners. These programs work to instill safety habits that young people can use for the rest of their lives. The ultimate goal of these events is to keep young people and those around them safer and healthier on the farm and at home.
Later this month, the 68th annual National Farm Safety and Health Week will be observed September 18-24, 2011, with the theme, "Safety Counts -- Your Community Depends On It". This week helps draw attention to the dangers of agriculture. It would be a great time to visit with your children and grandchildren about safety around the home. It may also serve as a reminder for adults to model safety behavior for children around the home and farm.
Safety is everyone's concern. Let's all work to have a safe fall season and beyond.