Discouraging news in the latest federal report on the dangers of farm life. Shari Burgus with “Farm Safety for Just Kids” says the latest totals available, from 2001, show rural life is a bit more dangerous for children. Overall injury numbers were down, but the number of American farms also dropped during the survey period. There was a slight decline in the number of childhood agricultural injuries from 1999 to 2001, from 1.7 to 1.4 injuries per 100 kids. Burgus can’t say exactly what the reason is for the change, and with a significant number of injuries still happening, she says we still need to be concerned. The USDA groups figures by region, and Burgus explains that’s because in different parts of the country they grow and raise different livestock and crops, so farming conditions vary. Tractors are usually the biggest killers of children on the farm, but injuries can involve machinery, livestock or other things depending on where the data’s collected. The Midwest has not only the highest number of injuries, but the highest rate, something she says is likely because of our high number of farm families and so many children working on farms. She says whatever’s causing injuries should be engineered to make things as safe as possible, and adds that existing laws must be enforced to protect kids. Burgus says while a lot of farm safety is teaching kids to be careful, parents also must learn their role in supervising and trainnig children, and making certain all the equipment they use is safe to begin with.
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