By DOUG GRAVES
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Each year across the United States, more than 100 children die and roughly 24,000 sustain a serious injury associated with farming. During the past decade, 36 Ohio youth died in agricultural-related incidents.
This year members of the Ohio State University extension’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program have a goal of focusing on how to stay safe on the farm, when it provides a series of day camps targeting school-aged children across the state.
Farm Safety Round-Up Day Camps are designed to offer youth real-world experience and emphasize farm safety, with a goal of teaching kids how to avoid injury, said Kathy Mann, an OSU extension program coordinator in agricultural safety and health.
“Farm safety is important year-round, but spring kicks off the Ohio Farm Safety Round-Up Day Camp season,” Mann said. “Each year the camps help nearly 1,000 youths statewide learn how to protect themselves and their family members from dangerous situations that can occur on or near farms.”
The aim of the camps is to educate kids about possible hazards they might encounter on the farm, whether they live on a farm or not. Points of interest at these camps include all-terrain vehicle safety, how quickly equipment moves compared to how fast a human can react, working safely around livestock and important safety rules for the farm.
In the past 11 years, more than 15,000 youth have participated in an Ohio farm safety day camp. An estimated 3,000 are expected to attend this season.
“Everyone in the community can benefit from a farm safety day camp experience,” said Dee Jepsen, extension’s safety leader. “Rural injuries can occur to anyone, not just farm kids. On farms it is difficult to determine where the backyard ends and the barnyard begins.”
Auglaize County will host the first of five such day camps.
“Allowing children in this work environment means they are exposed to all the noise, dust and chemical environments in this work place,” Jepsen explained. “They are also at risk for equipment entanglements, livestock hazards, drownings and electrocutions. Because farm children grow up in these ‘familiar’ areas, they often don’t recognize the dangers.”
The camps are scheduled as follows:
Auglaize County: May 18 at the Four Seasons Recreation Complex and Park. The camp is open to school groups only. Contact Don or Lois Baumer, Farm Bureau volunteers, at 419-628-3420.
Monroe County: Date to be determined. The camp will be open to school groups only. Contact Bruce Zimmer, OSU extension educator, at 740-472-0810.
Ross County: July 2 from 9 a.m.-noon at Hirsch’s Fruit Farm in Chillicothe. The camp is open to the community, with ages to be determined. Contact Mary Fleming at 740-272-6313.
Wayne County: June 8 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. This camp is open to 4-H Cloverbuds in Wayne County, ages 5-10. Contact Mel Rehm, Wayne County 4-H program assistant, at 330-264-8722.
Wood County: May 27 at the Agriculture Incubator Foundation. The camp is open to school groups only. Contact David Little, camp coordinator, at 419-833-3611.