About 120 young people turned out for the Annual Farm Safety Day Camp for Kids, held July 20 at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus.
The event, held by the Chatham-Kent Farm Safety Association and Progressive Agriculture, is geared to children aged, six to 12.
Janet Richards, co-ordinator of the event, says it was also a day of celebration as this was the 20th annual edition of the farm safety day.
The children are divided into groups that rotate between several stations where they learn about potentially dangerous activities.
They also receive key tips and reminders for staying safe on the farm and around the equipment.
As the event has evolved over the last two decades, Richards says more people have become aware of the need for farm safety education.
“None of us are born with common sense. It has to be told and repetition is one of the best learning tools,” notes Richards. “Because we see the same people back, I know it’s working, and the (injury) stats are coming down.”
Richards also says some people who attended as children in previous years have come back to participate as volunteers and presenters.
This year’s event included eight safety stations, covering diverse topics such as bike safety, sun safety, lawn mower safety, staying safe around creeks and bike safety.
One of the highlights was the fire safety station, where firefighters from the Orford-Highgate fire station showed the kids how to use a fire extinguisher.
They also gave the kids some homework, asking them to check to see if there are working smoke alarms on each floor of their homes and to ask their parents if they have an emergency plan in case of a fire.
At another station, Ken Campbell and Earle Woolaver of the Lambton Farm Safety Association discussed the dangers around grain bins and hopper wagons.
“We’re showing how they can be safe by not getting into grain bins,” says Woolaver.
“In a very short time, you could be under the grain and then you’re trapped. There’s no way you can get out on your own.”
As part of their interactive display, groups of three or four children were asked to pull on a rope that was tied to a 55-pound mannequin that was caught in a grain bin.
The exercise showed the children how difficult it is to get someone out of that situation.
Parents of participating children appreciated the chance to learn about the potential hazards.
“It’s a good opportunity for the kids to see and know what the dangers are around the farm,” says Heather Heyboer. “They pick up a lot of common sense things. At the end of the day, when they go home they mention things that they should be aware of so that they’re staying safe on the farm.”
Heyboer brought her two sons, aged nine and five, to the farm safety day.
The family lives on a farm south of Ridgetown.
“I think it’s great because we don’t have a farm ourselves but there are lots of farms around us,” says Angie Smith, who lives in the Thamesville area. “This safety is really important. We don’t have combines but they’re on our roads, so we need to know how to be safe to still live in the environment.”