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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Aug 23, 2008

With the recent farm-related child deaths and injuries, the Estherville Daily News reminds farm operators to keep this year’s harvest safe.

The National Safety Council estimates that approximately 300 people under age 19 die and 24,000 are seriously hurt on our nation’s farms each year. In Iowa, at least one of every five farm injuries is to a child.

Iowa Department of Public Health statistics indicate there were 3,867 farm-related injuries and fatalities reported between 2002 and 2006. Of that number, 367 involved children younger than 16 years of age, including five fatalities.

Since June, there have been at least five farm-related accidents in Iowa involving children, including four fatalities.

The most recent death involved a 1-year-old McIntire girl who died Tuesday after she fell from her father’s tractor.

With 88,400 farms in operation in Iowa, it’s important that adults take extra caution when children are involved in farm work.

As the busy harvest season begins in Iowa, there are several safety precautions regarding children to consider:

n Develop a “safety first” attitude. Follow safe work practices all the time and set a good example for others.

n Be physically and mentally fit when operating tractors. Fatigue, stress, medication, alcohol and drugs can detract from safe tractor operation. Take breaks.

n Never allow riders on farm equipment or machinery. Don’t take chances. Don’t let your friends and family ride with you. Any motorized farm vehicle such as lawn mowers, ATVs, cargo areas of pickups, and combines that have only one operator’s seat should have only one person on board.

n Teach proper driving techniques to youth old enough to operate tractors.

n Provide an enclosed and safe play area for children, away from machinery or where work is occurring on the farm.

For more information on farm safety, visit www.public-health.uiowa.edu/ICASH/.