Child farm safety in focus

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
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Lizzy and Isla Mexsom, 6, with Layla, 8, left, and Emily, 10.
Camera IconLizzy and Isla Mexsom, 6, with Layla, 8, left, and Emily, 10. Credit: Shannon Smith

The everyday dangers children face on farms are the focus of a new Kidsafe guide for parents.

Three children die in the Great Southern from farm accident-related causes every year, and Kidsafe wants the guide to reduce the chances of these tragic occurrences.

The guide was released this month and is a timely reminder for parents as children visit farms during school holidays.

Children unfamiliar with farms make up almost 50 per cent of farming accidents.

It was only 19 months ago when the Great Southern town of Jerramungup was rattled by the farm death of an eight-year-old in a quad bike accident.

Motorbike safety is one of the key points in the guide, along with machinery, water, firearms, chemicals and animals.

Kidsafe WA chief executive Scott Phillips said 27 children died in farming accidents across WA each year — enough to fill up a classroom.

“We know that farms are a workplace and also a home for a lot of families,” he said.

“We have decided that it is important for us to start looking at farm safety.

“Kidsafe’s role is to raise awareness of how many kids die from an accident.

“In addition, about 336 children will be hospitalised each year from accidents.

“We think that these accidents are all avoidable and that can be done by simple messaging to parents.” Living on a farm in Kalgan, Andrew and Lizzy Mexsom love the life children have growing up on a farm.

Like many families during school holidays, they have had their nieces and nephew visiting for school holidays.

Mr Mexsom said supervision was one of the best ways to make sure children did not put their safety at risk.

“The reality is that there are hazards everywhere, no matter where you look,” Mr Mexsom said.

“I think the kids get to a point where they are aware of the hazards too themselves, but it is all about supervision.”

Kidsafe also suggests that every farm should have a fenced-off safe area for children to play in.

Mr Phillips said quite often children were out of sight on big farms. “When an accident does happen, there can be a time be-fore someone finds them,” he said.

“If someone is off on a ride on a quad bike, it is until they aren’t coming back that people realise that something might be wrong — and that might be hours.”

The guide can be downloaded at kidsafewa.com.au/guides-at-home.

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