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Farm Safety

Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident. Every day, 33 children are injured in agriculture-related incidents. The most common causes of these injuries are from slips and falls, animals, farm machinery, and all-terrain vehicles. Children are vulnerable to many of the same hazards as adults who live or work on farms, but they are far less capable of understanding those hazards. Although parents cannot completely child-proof a farm, they can make it as safe as possible.


Here are ways to minimize exposure to common farm hazards for children.

Farm Safety Tips

  • All farm ponds and manure lagoons need to be fenced.

  • Only operate tractors with Roll Over Protective Structures (ROPS).

  • A slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem is required to be mounted on all pieces of farm equipment that travel on public roads.

  • All barn chemicals and pesticides should be stored in their original containers and kept out of the reach of children.

  • Ladders should be stored properly so that children cannot play on them.

  • Be sure all farm vehicles and equipment are operating properly (horns, four-way flashers, backup alarms, mirrors, sensors, and rearview monitors.)

  • All hay holes should be protected with an installed cover.

  • Make a rule to never carry unnecessary passengers on tractors, towed implements or self-propelled machines.

  • Silo gas is a hidden danger. The air quality in and around a silo can be deadly. Please use caution and always place appropriate signage on the outside of a silo.

  • Remind children that equipment is NOT a toy.

  • Grain bins can turn into “quicksand”, especially during bottom unloading; many children have drowned in bins being unloaded.

  • Children should not be able to reach feed and water containers from outside an animal’s pen or corral.

  • Regularly make time for family safety discussions that include instruction of farm safety tips and how to handle a farm incident.

Animal Safety

Children may be fascinated by animals on the farm and perceive them to be similar to the stuffed animals they have at home. However, livestock can harm people out of territorial protection, maternal instincts, social relationships, or interruption of their habits. Children might not understand or notice the subtle signs an animal will exhibit just before attacking.

Follow these tips to keep your kids safe around animals:

  • Show children the right way to behave around animals: move slowly, be calm, approach from the front. Kids should stop when they are close enough for the animal to sniff them and should only get closer if the animal remains calm. 

  • Remind kids that all animals can be unpredictable. Even the sweetest ones can become dangerous if they’re sick, upset or hurt, so it is important to recognize these situations and be extra careful. 

  • Teach kids to stay away from baby animals (a mother protecting her young can become defensive), as well as adult males and wild animals (both tend to be naturally more aggressive).

  • To reduce the risk of head injury, kids should wear a helmet when riding horses. Boots with a small heel can also help keep their feet in the stirrups as they ride and reduce their chances of being thrown from the horse. 

  • Children should wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts or jackets, as they offer a layer of protection from sharp beaks, claws and toenails. And to protect feet, wear closed-toe shoes (steel-reinforced boots are best). 

  • Make sure children wash their hands with soap and water (or use hand sanitizer in a pinch) after they interact with animals. That way they don’t spread a virus or bacteria the animal could be carrying.

  • Know the best escape route whenever you’re working around animals, so you can easily get out of harm’s way if the animal gets upset.

  • Show children how to protect themselves if an animal attacks. They should drop to the ground, roll into a ball, and cover their heads and faces with their arms.

  • If an animal bites your child, wash the area with soap and water and apply pressure. If it’s bleeding, contact your doctor to check for infection and diseases.

  • It’s important not to approach an angry animal unless the injured person is in immediate danger and you’re able to get him/her out of harm’s way without getting hurt. Call 911 immediately.

  • Living on a farm could mean that you’re farther away from help if something happens. Make sure that you have quick access to a phone and clear directions to your location in your home, in the barn, and other facilities to help save time in an emergency.

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This and other farm safety materials are available under the Resources tab.

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