Harvest season in the Corn Belt is peak time for accidents involving farm children.

“As part of a farm family, they like to be part of the harvest,” says Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension state health and safety specialist. “Harvest time is likely when children will be extra riders on the tractors, combines or in grain trucks.” They also may ride all-terrain vehicles to take water and food to farmworkers.

Accidents related to riding on or driving tractors and ATVs are the two most common types of farm accidents involving children or young people, she said.

“Never allow children to ride as extra passengers on tractors, lawn mowers or other farm equipment,” Funkenbusch said. “Also, do not let a young person operate a tractor unless they are mature enough, have the physical capability and are versed in operational safety.”

All tractors should be fitted with a rollover protection structure (ROPS). Operators of tractors with ROPS should wear seat belts so that they will stay in place in case of a rollover.

“Never use a seat belt on a tractor not fitted with ROPS,” she said.

Risk-taking is common among youth, Funkenbusch said. Youngsters often ride without protective gear and with more than one person on the machine. They also may be too small for the ATV.

Funkenbusch recommends these rules for youth riding ATVs:

  • • Wear helmets.
  • • Wear eye protection.
  • • Wear nonskid, closed-toe shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • • Never ride on public roads at night; never ride on paved roads.
  • • Before buying a used ATV, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall list athttp://1.usa.gov/1KidMBV.
  • • Take a safety course on how to ride an ATV.

For more information from MU Extension about farm safety, go to http://extension.missouri.edu.

For information about National Farm Safety & Health Week, Sept. 20-26, visit the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety website at http://www.necasag.org.