The founder of AgriKids, Alma Jordan, is urging farm families to “think safety first” as the countdown to the summer school holidays begins.

“We have children home from school, maybe cousins visiting, we have milder weather and brighter evenings – all these things contribute to the likelihood of children being outdoors.

“There is nothing wrong with that, more sunshine hopefully means less screen time.

“However, on the flip side, the seasonal nature of farming work over the summer months means long hours, more machinery in use and greater work pressures on farmers to get hay and harvest in,” she said.

Separately these are the normal trappings of rural life; but, when they intertwine we have the potential for danger and tragedy.

It was in August 2014 that Jordan first resolved to do something about farm safety education.

She recalls how the deaths of two young children brought her “tremendous sorrow”.

“I truly sobbed for their families. I knew it could just as easy be myself or any farm family,” she said.

To make the generational change required to tackle the problem, Jordan says the farming community needs to start with upcoming generations – before bad habits are fully learned.

“We need to look at ways to help the farm family work together in making their homes, as well as their farms, safe.

“I had a wonderful letter form a Cork school which stated how the children were discussing the farm safety workshop I gave around the dinner table. This is so valuable and vital in bringing change,” she said.

Top tips

She stressed that the vital question parents need to ask this summer is: ‘Are we safe farm ready?”.

Agrikids’ top tips are:
  • Make sure children are never alone on the farm;
  • When specific work, such as slurry agitation is planned, tell your family to stay away and why;
  • Use farm visits as an opportunity to explain the dangers of tractors and animals;
  • Set age-appropriate ground rules;
  • Explain the warning signs with animal behaviour;
  • Explain what the various symbols mean on toxic materials;
  • Set up a dedicated play area – farmyards are not playgrounds;
  • Have an action plan in the event of an emergency;
  • Keep your first-aid kit stocked and accessible;
  • Show your children how you prevent farm accidents.