Farm accidents still a threat for children

Farm accidents involving child injury or death have happened too often in the history of Kansas.

The list of accidents goes back to the 1800s for rural children killed in such mishaps as machinery injuries, animal injuries and drowning.

Though Marion County hasn?t had any child farm fatality accidents in recent years, according to Steve Smith, Marion?County Emergency Management director, such accidents do happen too painfully often, and they have happened near here.

Kansas has recorded one child fatality this year in Barton County, where a 7-year-old boy dismounted from a tractor to open a gate into a cattle feeding pen.

The boy apparently misjudged the speed and direction of the tractor once it was in the pen, according to authorities, and was run over.

Kansas Farm Bureau said such accidents are happening too often, even though machinery accidents are exceeded by accidents involving livestock.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 158,598 children live in the rural areas of Kansas, and statistically they are at far greater risk for unintentional injury or death than children living in urban areas.

According to national research conducted by Iowa State University, one in every five accidents in agriculture is sustained by children.

The ISU study said farm accidents kill more children than are killed by disease, kidnapping and drug use combined.

ISU said 300 persons under the age of 19 die in farm accidents nationally each year, and 24,000 (an average of 65 daily) are injured.

The study concluded, from the types of accidents, that children age 8 and younger should always be supervised around animals because the animal actions require more mature mentality to predict.

It concluded that children under 14 shouldn?t be driving tractors, and that none should be riding in the backs of pickup trucks.

ISU warned that drivers backing any vehicles should double check for children behind them.

The researchers warned that 2- to 3-year-olds don?t have the depth perception or discernment to understand whether a tractor is moving further away or closer.

Yet, they said, children frequently have a false set of consciousness that they can do what adults do.

Cheri Sage, state director for KDHE?s Safe Kids Kansas, added to the list with tractors, saying children under 16 shouldn?t drive or ride ATVs or snowmobiles.

She said children ages 6 to 12 are the most likely to sustain injuries, though thinking they can do what adults do.

Drowning also is a frequent killer in farm accidents, researchers warned, with small children even lost from falling headfirst into buckets of water.

Sage warned that children should wear life vests or flotation devices around farm ponds.

Several agencies said grain bin accidents happen frequently for children because the grain, no matter if they are looking at corn, milo, wheat or soybeans, looks fun to get into, but quickly takes them under like quicksand to suffocate them.

Sage also warned that children riding horses should wear equestrian helmets; homes using fuel-burning heat sources should be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors; that all fuel-burning heaters should be vented properly.

The best way to avoid a farm child accident, several officials said, is to take heed now.

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