With spring in full bloom and the farming season picking up to full gear, the Waterloo Rural Women’s group is set to run the 20th annual Children’s Farm Safety Day.
The event, held at the Shantz family dairy farm on 3rd Line near Wallenstein this year, aims to teach kids about fire, machinery and animal safety through hands-on activities.
“People wonder why we bother to host a farm safety day each spring,” said Sharon Grose, a Waterloo Rural Women member from Alma. “We have a committed group of volunteers who feel strongly about educating children about farm safety. Farm kids are exposed to a lot of things at a young age. We only hear about the accidents that happen, but we don’t hear about the accidents we have prevented by talking to students.”
Accidents can happen in “a matter of seconds,” she added, noting that personal experiences have made this issue really hit home.
“Farm children live where their family works, and often times they don’t see or are not aware of the many hazards of their daily surroundings,” Grose said. “We want to try and make children aware of the dangers and hazards found on the farm. Often times children will pay more attention if someone other than their parents reminds them of the dangers. Farm families live where they work; we want them to be safe.”
Firefighters from the Woolwich and Mapleton departments will be on hand for the event.
“They’re bringing fire extinguishers so that the children will actually have the opportunity to use the equipment,” Grose said. “They won’t actually be putting out a fire, but they will get the chance to become comfortable using them. Most kids would see an extinguisher on the wall but have no idea how to actually use it.”
Representatives from Stoltz machinery will also be on site to discuss the potential hazards of large farm equipment.
“They do a game, which is how kids learn, where they sit them up on the tractor seat and they have to try and see when a person is coming towards the tractor,” Grose said. “That way, the kids learn about all the blind spots there are for someone operating a tractor and they won’t get too close trying to say hi to mom or dad, not realizing that they might not be able to see you.”
For large animal safety, participants will get a chance to wear special glasses that simulate the vision patterns for cows.
Again, animals like cows and horses have blind spots and kids need to understand the proper way to approach livestock on their family farms.
These are, of course, lessons that are passed down from generation to generation from mom and dad, grandma and grandpa and the like, Grose said.
But sometimes the message sinks in deeper when it comes from outside the home.
“Children will go home and tell their parents what they have learned so hopefully the whole family benefits from the day” Grose said. “There are far too many kids being hurt; if hosting a day such as this can prevent an accident it is time well spent. “We’re heading into the busy time on the farm, but we hope folks will take time to register their children for WRW Children’s Farm Safety Day.”
The group is still looking for volunteers, Grose said, adding that it’s a great opportunity for high school students to get the volunteer hours they need to complete their diplomas.
Parents are also encouraged to stick around for the event, which runs from 9 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. June 13 at 7341 3rd Line , RR#2, Wallenstein. Cost is $5 per child, ages 4-12. For more information or to volunteer, contact Laurie Weber at 519-664-2327 or Susan Martin at 519-669-8066.