Hutterite colonies have banded together to keep children safety savvy on the farm.
Last week more than 250 children came to Newdale Colony in Elie for farm safety day. The students, between seven to 15 years old, came from a number of nearby colonies to receive farm-specific safety instruction.
“Injuries are not too common, so it really is to keep them informed,” said Newdale Colony schoolteacher, Jacob Wollmann. “Children like to play on the farm — it’s a big yard, with a lot happening.”
The children were shown how to properly control fire and smoke, how to behave around farm equipment and how to identify hazardous chemicals.
Some Manitoba colonies have lost children to chemical ingestion, Wollmann said.
Another safety hazard is part of the Prairie landscape —hay bales. Children often play on top the large mounds and for the most part, it’s safe practise. Wollmann said the discussion reminds students to think about their farm environment.
“They learned about being safe around grain, we don’t want them to get into grain and suffocate,” Wollmann said.
Another important element is kitchen safety. Cooking and baking are part of the culture, and students were shown the safe way to use appliances.
Students were also briefed on animal safety, where to stand near different animals and even how to trot horses.
Since most of the children ride bicycles more than horses, a representative from Manitoba Public Insurance came down for a presentation on two-wheeler etiquette.
“(The children) ride their bicycles in the road, so they learn to be careful, how to cross the road — to wear their helmets,” Wollmann said.
While not offered as part of Farm Safety Day, some first aid is taught on colony schools. At Deerboine Colony near Alexander this past weekend, everyone on the colony was invited to attend a first-aid course. For two hours, adults and children of all ages learned what to do in the event of drowning or choking, how to treat burns, and ways of bandaging different wounds.
“It was something to see a six-year-old learning how to roll his mother over properly if she’s passed out,” Hofer said, adding sometimes children are the only ones with their mothers inside the house during the work day.
The closest hospital to Deerboine is in Rivers, a 15-minute ambulance ride away. Hofer said the colony is “lucky,” and only a few injuries have occurred on the farm.
“Just broken bones from the children playing,” he said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 31, 2012