Keeping kids safe on the farm

Cultivate safety rules for kids on the farm

In concept, growing up on a farm might seem idyllic. But in terms of the dangers farm operations pose to children, they should be considered industrial spaces. According to a 2022 fact sheet available from the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS), 33 kids are hurt every day in agricultural accidents, with a child dying every three days due to farming-related injuries.

Here are some tips for making your farm a kid-safe zone:

  • Tractors, combines, cultivators, and other machinery can be deadly. NCCRAHS says that 47 percent of child farm fatalities were due to various forms of transportation, including tractors and ATVs. Children should not be given rides on farm machines, particularly on booms, buckets, or even your lap. Make sure you keep the keys in your pocket, not in the ignition.
  • Make sure kids can’t access equipment that has sharp edges, such as plows and harrows, and keep them well clear of any work that’s going on in the machine shed, farmyard, or field.
  • Animals can be hazardous too. Make sure youngsters working around dangerous livestock are at least 16 years old. Don’t assume, though, that teens are safe; according to NCCRAHS, ag injuries have trended down in recent years, but the 16–19 age range has seen a significant uptick.
  • Keep all ag chemicals safely locked away. Make sure spaces where toxic substances are stored and handled are properly ventilated, and that protective clothing is available and used. Better still, make these kid-free zones.
  • Keep kids away from any place where grain is handled or stored — bins, wagons, silos, etc. Harvested grain looks a lot like play-sand. It’s not. It only takes seconds for a child to become engulfed.
  • Are there any child-sized holes in the floors of your farm buildings? If so, make sure they’re securely covered.
  • Keep kids away from high places such as hay mows, scaffolding, or silos, as well as spaces where large objects — such as hay bales or stacks of tractor tires — can topple over onto them.
  • Fence off areas where drowning is a risk, including wells, farm ponds, watering tanks, and manure lagoons.
  • Children can handle some jobs on the farm, but make sure there are clear protocols for doing them. Kids need to know what safe behavior looks like, and a routine for chores is one of the best ways of making that clear.
  • Make sure kids know the signs of weather-related illnesses such as hypothermia or heat exhaustion and heat-stroke. Adequate cold-temperature gear in winter, and frequent breaks and abundant water when it’s hot in summer, are key.
  • Make sure emergency numbers for first responders are posted prominently, and in multiple places. Make sure kids can access phones and radios and that they know what to do in case of emergency.
  • However much you lecture kids about safe behavior on the farm, they won’t listen if you don’t model that behavior yourself. Lead by example.
  • For more information, NCCRAHS offers a checklist that provides farmers with a comprehensive set of guidelines to follow to ensure their farms are kid-friendly.



The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice and should be confirmed with alternative sources.

Sources: Farm Progress; Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH)