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Kids learn basic safety tips at Ohio farm event
Ohio Correspondent

WOOSTER, Ohio — The farm is a home, a playground and a place where children learn to do chores. But it also comes with the unique hazards associated with a farm, and children need to take responsibility for their own safety, according to the organizers of the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day.

Wayne County Farm Bureau, The Ohio State University Extension office of Wayne County and The Westfield Group sponsored the event along with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation.

The idea for the safety day came about when Dawn Schirm and Nancy Wise, co-chairs of Wayne County Farm Bureau’s Promotion, Education and Image committee saw a similar event advertised by Tuscarawas County.

“We went down and spent the day at their event and we thought it was something that we needed to do in Wayne County,” Schirm said. Wise explained, because agriculture is such a major part of the county’s economy, children need to be aware of the hazards on the farm.

“This program is beneficial because it teaches children to think about safety awareness at a young age,” said Greg Sautter, safety committee chairman with Wayne County Farm Bureau. “When children walk out the door, telling their parents about all of the things that they saw and did during the program, that makes it a success. This is a neat program and it could save a life.”

Apple Creek Volunteer Fire Department chief Les Durstine agreed. Durstine, along with members of his department and the New Pittsburg Volunteer Fire Department, were on hand at the event to man the Wayne County Fire and Rescue Assoc.’s (WCRFA) Safety House.

“I am impressed with this program, I think it is good for the children,” Durstine said. “The more we get out to young children about safety, the better. At this age, they are open minded and accept things easily.”

Durstine added that safety house had been donated to the WCFRA Lorain County about a year ago when that county purchased a new unit. The safety house is beneficial because it teaches children about fire safety at a young age.

“This gets children involved at a young age, so we are able to teach them the do’s and don’ts of fire safety,” Durstine said.

“I am amazed at how much these children already picked up from other programs.”

During his presentation, Durstine discussed ways to prevent fires and the importance of posting emergency numbers, getting away from the house if there was a fire and calling 911 in the event of an emergency.

Another popular stop during the event was the Wayne County Underwater Search and Rescue Team under the direction of Jim Imhoff, commander of the dive team.

The dive team was formed in 1984 when the fire chief at the Wooster Township Fire Department saw the need for a team. Imhoff has been with the team since 1985 and said that the team works with police and fire departments doing evidence recovery, stolen property and body recovery. Currently there are 21 members of the team, and they are still based out of the Wooster Township Fire Department.

“Not all of the members of the team are divers. Some of them are tenders who work on land to help us with the underwater search or rescue,” he said.

“We are all volunteers, most of our members are CPR and First-Aid trained or EMTs. We purchase our equipment through the donations of businesses and individuals. We are the only such unit in the county, and we will go any place in the state to help out.”

Alan Griffiths, a member of the Wooster Township Fire Department gave the children tips on what to do if they were the first ones on the scene of an accident. He said while farm accidents are fairly rare, they may result in traumatic injuries.

“Walk around to where you can see the victim’s face if possible,” he said.

“Talk to them, find out what happened, but don’t put yourself in danger. When you call 911, tell the dispatcher what happened, where you are and how many people were involved in the accident. The more information that you can give the rescue workers, the better prepared they will be with the right equipment.”

When it comes to working with large animals, we need to think of safety first, ours and the animal’s according to Dr. Mike Geiger, a large animal veterinarian. He stressed the importance of having a safe working area and an escape route.

“It helps to know the animal’s normal behavior characteristics,” he said. “Watch its eyes and ears and keep a safe distance when you are behind the animal. You need to correct bad behavior when it happens and be consistent with the animal.”

Geiger added that good husbandry is important. He defined husbandry as providing safe facilities, exercise and good nutrition for the animal.

“Make sure they have feed, hay, water, clean dry bedding and a place to get away from bad weather,” he said. “Keep your animals healthy, if they don’t feel good, they can get violent and you could be hurt.”

Geiger also stressed the importance of washing hands after working with or petting animals.

Terry Beck discussed the importance of proper storage of household chemicals. He brought home his point through the use of look-alike products such as sports drinks, window cleaner, antifreeze, rubbing alcohol, water, corn syrup, motor oil, vegetable oil and brake fluid.

“Don’t store anything in an unmarked container,” he said. “If you aren’t sure what the item is, stay away from it. If you find someone who has gotten into poison, call 911 or the poison control center as soon as possible.”

When it comes to lawn mowers, people don’t think of them as being dangerous, according to Conrad Amstutz. “It is important to make sure that you know how to operate the mower and know its safety features,” he said. “Stay away from the mower when it is in use. Pick up your toys, sticks and stones from the yard so they don’t get thrown and hurt someone or damage property. Keep the shields in place. Don’t carry passengers on the lawn mower.”

He also stressed the importance of keeping power take-off shields in place and keeping a safe distance when they are moving to avoid getting caught up in them and getting hurt.

Robyn Tate and Stacy Shaw discussed the importance of staying away from downed power lines as electric is always looking for something to get its grounding point.

Shaw said that it was important to make sure there are no power lines around when you are moving equipment or flying kites. It is also important to call the power company to find out where the electric lines are located before beginning a digging project. He added that in rural areas, downed trees and animals such as squirrels are the major cause of power outages.

The children also learned about bicycle and seat belt safety, the importance of protecting their skin when they are out in the sun and washing their hands after playing outside or petting animals and before eating their meals.

This farm news was published in the June 21, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.