National Farm Safety & Health Week is Sept. 18-24
Sept. 18-24, 2011 marks National Farm Safety and Health Week. The theme for this year’s awareness week is “Safety Counts: Your Community Depends On It, And So Does The Next Generation.” With events taking place across the country, one day of special importance is Sept. 21, a day dedicated towards raising awareness for farm safety and kids.
“Farm injuries and fatalities have decreased in previous years, but in the U.S. today there are still an average of two fatalities per week,” said Mary Faber, an intern and outreach coordinator with Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK). “That’s two families every week that lose a child or sibling in a farm-related accident.”
FS4JK was founded nearly 25 years ago by Marilyn Adams who lost her 11-year-old son in a gravity-flow grain wagon accident. Today, the organization has over 120 chapters across the U.S. and Canada. The mission is to promote a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries and fatalities to children and youth.
“There are many ways to avoid injury when dealing with animals,” Faber advised. “How can parents teach their child about dangerous-animal warning signs and situations? There are a few rules parents can share with their children.”
First, 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. Second, 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. Third, do not interrupt animals that are eating. Animals may become aggressive if they feel that their food supply is being threatened. Fourth, 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.
“FS4JK has over 120 chapters and nine outreach coordinators, like me,” Faber explained. “The chapters put on safety events and share safety tips with the community. As the South Dakota Outreach Coordinator, I get the opportunity to travel across the state teaching farm safety to youth and their families for free, thanks to the generosity of Monsanto. I cover a wide variety of topics including: animal safety, grain safety, tractor safety, ATV safety, sun safety, seat belt safety and chemical safety. I incorporate these safety messages in presentations, games and fun activities. These messages are also shared through media events in newspapers and on the radio.”
Faber explained that agriculture is the nation’s most dangerous occupation, with almost 700 child deaths on U.S. farms occurring between 1995-2000.
“In 2006 alone, over 3,500 children were injured on the farm,” she said. “The farm is a great place to raise kids, but it can also be a dangerous one. “
Faber is a strong advocate for farm safety and is dedicated to the cause, managing her FS4JK duties along with going to college. She is a sophomore agriculture business major and Spanish minor at South Dakota State University (SDSU), and plans to farm with her family in Minnesota and pursue a career in agriculture after she graduates. Her duties as an outreach coordinator aren’t just a job either; Faber has been personally impacted by a family loss on the farm.
“Fourteen years ago, when I was just six years old, one of my uncles died in a skid steer farming accident,” she shared. “After this life-changing moment for my family and myself, we realized how important farm safety really is. My older sister, Nancy, is in the middle of her third year as an Outreach Coordinator in Minnesota. I followed in her footsteps and became an Outreach Coordinator in South Dakota this winter. My hope is that each child I get the chance to teach about Farm Safety takes something out of it. The lessons that FS4JK prepares prevent health hazards, injuries, and fatalities to children and youth.”
It only takes a minute for a farm accident to occur. Share these important messages and create awareness with area farming families. Farm accidents can be avoided, and National Farm Safety and Health Week on Sept. 18-24 will help share this reminder with the agriculture community.
editor’s note: those interested in learning more fs4jk, would like to look into starting a chapter, or hosting a safety event in south dakota, contact faber at 507-236-0306 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. those interested in know more from another state can visit http://www.fs4jk.org.
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