With Memorial Day marking the unofficial start to summer, longer days and warmer weather will lead to a rise in outdoor recreation in the upcoming months. Additionally, students have been eagerly counting down the final days until their summer break begins. However, amid the warm weather, energy, and excitement, it is important to keep safety at the forefront.
In coming summer months, youth may find themselves helping on the farm a bit more, or maybe even helping to watch over a younger sibling at home alone during the workday. No matter the case, families should begin important conversations about safety expectations.
For age-appropriate children staying at home alone during the workday, start by establishing safety rules and boundaries for when an adult is not able to be with them. Remind them to be careful about what they share on social media – as what may seem like an innocent post or “snap” could unintentionally alert others that they are home alone. For older children and early teens, especially those providing the childcare for their younger siblings, ensure that they know what to do in case of an emergency. It is also important for the parent or guardian to identify a trusted neighbor that can periodically stop in and be available in the case of an emergency for the children at home alone. If children will be preparing meals during the day, make sure that they understand how to stay safe around kitchen appliances and cooking tools, such as stovetops, microwaves, knives, and other sharp objects. Adults should also reinforce why it is important to read product directions before cooking, along with tips on how to prevent fires and burns and what to do should one occur.
For children helping to work on the farm or ranch, always ensure that they are given developmentally appropriate tasks. Also, be sure that the child understands the possible risks involved, the necessary safety precautions, and what pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be utilized while completing certain tasks. Adults should remind youth about the importance of staying hydrated and taking breaks, as the hot, summer days on the farm are often filled with much to get accomplished. Lastly, youth should be reminded about the dangers of “cutting corners” to get a task completed quicker, or risks related to being distracted when on smart phones while working. As adults, working alongside youth, we should role model these safe behaviors as well.
No matter the day of the week, it is important to encourage a healthy balance between time spent on technology devices and physical activity. And while enjoying a walk, bicycle ride, or other outdoor activities, youth should always apply sunscreen, and then reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
Remember to always follow simple safety tips while cherishing the warm summer days.
Other than physical safety and health, mental health needs to be an everyday priority. Even with Mental Health Month ending in May, the focus on mental health does not stop there. Whether it is with adults or children, maintaining a healthy mind is key to a fully healthy lifestyle. Farm Director, Pam Jahnke was able to visit with Jana Davidson of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation about taking care of yourself and others through stressful times.