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Rural Safety

Rural and Farm Safety for Children


Many children live on or visit farms and rural areas. Children can get hurt because they don’t sense danger or know how to stay away from hazards. As children grow and develop, they get stronger and learn to think things through better. Your child shouldn't do any activity that they aren't physically and developmentally ready for, even if they've been raised on a farm.​

Adults can help lower the risk of a child getting hurt by knowing what they can do at different ages and stages of development. By your own actions, show your child the safest way to do things and how to follow safety rules. ​

Playing in Rural or Farm Environments

Before letting your child play in a rural or farm environment, check the area for potential hazards, like: machinery, electric fences, lakes, septic tanks, wells, animal pastures, or root cellars. If you are visiting a new farm or rural area, ask the owners about safe areas for play.

Consider the age of your child and set appropriate boundaries, such as:

  • Putting up physical barriers, like fencing.
  • Marking electric fences with a flag or sign.
  • Teaching your child about potential hazards and areas that are off limits for play.

Farm Machinery and Tools

Farm machinery, equipment, and tools can pose many hazards to children. When working with any equipment, make sure that: 

  • Machinery and tools work well.
  • ​Machinery and farm vehicles have safety features, like guards and shields, rollover bars, and seat belts.
  • Tools are the right size for the child doing the job. For example, ladders, cutting tools, or brooms.
  • Machinery and tools are stored safely, in a locked area, when not in use.
  • Machinery always has the parking brake on and the keys are out of the ignition when not in use.
  • Children and adults should wear snug-fitting clothes, tie back long hair, and remove any hazardous clothing, like scarves.​

Animal Safety

Animals can be unpredictable, whether they are large or small. Even if they are calm. Consider the following tips for animal safety on a farm:

  • Stay with your child and supervise when they enter an animal pen.
  • Teach your child to treat animals with respect and not to startle them.
  • Always be aware of where animals are. Move slowly and quietly around them.
  • When your child is near a horse, make sure they wear an approved equestrian helmet (a helmet made for riding horses).

Chores on the Farm

Have your child do chores and activities that are a good fit for their age and stage of development. To prevent injury on a farm, make sure your child:

  • is supervised
  • has the right training
  • always wears the right safety gear, like work boots, eye and ear protection, gloves, snug-fitting clothes, and a tie for long hair
  • has a cell phone, walkie-talkie, or other way to call for help
  • takes breaks and drinks lots of fluids
  • has an emergency plan, including a planned escape route

If you show your child how to do a job, it is easier to learn. An  adult who is trained to do the job should always supervise until a child can do the job safely. You can reduce supervision over time once they can consistently do the task safely.

Before you ask your child to do chores on the farm, think about how they are. North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) has suggestions for the right chores for children ages 7 to 16. Remember, all children are different.

Before deciding on your child’s chores, think about how ready they may be based on:

  • size, strength, endurance
  • attention span
  • balance and body coordination
  • comfort with heights
  • comfort with animals
  • speed and reaction time
  • hand/eye coordination and side (peripheral) vision
  • insect allergies or other allergies
  • shows responsible behaviour
  • able to assess risks and hazards

​Fire Safety

If you burn anything in a rural area, use a fire-safe container with a grate on top. Only responsible adults should oversee a burning fire.

When refueling machinery outside, do it away from open flames or lit smoking materials, like a cigarette.

Current as of: July 19, 2023

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services