The holiday period sees many children visiting Rural Queensland to live the dusty dream of horse riding, motorbike racing and swimming in dams.
However, these summer holidays come with a word of warning.
Children under 15 years old make up about 20 per cent of the on-farm deaths in Australia each year, and nearly one-third of those children are visitors, according to the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS).
Setting boundaries and rules for children who are getting a taste of rural life is important for their own safety. The ACAHAS believes this is because children not accustomed to the farm life may not be as aware of potential dangers as kids that have grown up on their own farms.
Historically the biggest risk has been drowning, but quad bikes are an increasing issue, with two deaths involving children recorded in the first half of 2015.
Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) Advisory Committee chairman Gordon Gregory says that farmers should make sure they have secure safe play areas for young children, and keep all children off quad bikes completely.
“Quad bikes may look stable and easy to ride, but kids are not big enough, strong enough and coordinated enough to operate these potentially dangerous machines. They also don’t have the emotional maturity,” Mr Gregory said.
The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety has set Guidelines for children visiting farms stressing that children only ride two wheel motorcycles appropriate for their age and size, whilst wearing helmets is one of the key guidelines.
Mr. Gregory says that livestock and the safety precautions needed on a farm can be foreign to visitors. Ensuring there are ‘out of bounds’ areas for children defines the boundary between home and the workplace.
“While your own kids may help around the farm on a regular basis, it’s important to keep an extra close eye on any visitors who aren’t accustomed to livestock or the machinery and equipment you’re using.
“Fencing younger children into secure play areas may not win you any awards in the popularity stakes, but we cannot afford to lose young Australians in preventable incidents.”
A cautious approach by those visiting farms over the school holidays, can still be fun says Mr. Gregory, whilst also instilling lifelong skills in farming life.