Safekids Logo

1000 SW Jackson Suite 230
Topeka, KS 66612-1274
(785) 296-1223
(785) 296-8649 (FAX)

Jan Stegelman

Executive Committee:
Randall Bolin

Dennis Cooley, MD
Medical Advisor
American Academy of
Pediatrics, Kansas

John Drees
Douglas County
SAFE KIDS Coalition

John Halbran
Kansas Safety Belt
Education Office

Jim Keating
Kansas State
Firefighters Association

Elena Nuss
Kansas State
Fire Marshal's Office

Cindy Samuelson
Kansas Hospital Association

For Immediate Release:
September 13, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

National Farm Safety & Health Week September 16-22, 2007

"It's Easier to Bury a Tradition Than a Child: Keep Kids Away from Tractors"

Safe Kids Kansas offers rural safety tips

Each year in the United States, approximately 70 children ages 14 and under die from injuries sustained on a farm; in 2001, nearly 16,000 were injured on a farm. In Kansas, approximately 155,000 (or 28 percent) of children live in rural areas. During National Farm Safety & Health Week, Sept. 16-22, 2007, Safe Kids Kansas encourages parents to focus on injury prevention.

“Kids need to be supervised while doing farm work, and kids should not try to do the work of an adult,” says Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator. “It takes physical strength and development, as well as mature judgment, to operate mechanical farm equipment safely.”

Farm machinery and drowning account for most farm-related child fatalities. Safe Kids Kansas recommends that children under age 16 never drive or ride ATVs, snowmobiles or tractors, and that no one should ride as a passenger on a tractor or lawnmower.

Children should also be supervised near irrigation ditches, ponds and other bodies of water, no matter how shallow. “A small child can drown in just an inch of water,” says Stegelman. “Drowning happens quickly and silently, not like in the movies. A drowning child cannot cry or call for help.” The drowning death rate for children is three times higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children ages 4 to 16 and the number one cause of fatal accidental injury in children 14 and under. More than 60 percent of crash fatalities occur in rural areas. “Never, ever let a child ride in the bed of a pickup truck,” says Stegelman. “In a crash, the child would almost certainly be ejected and killed or suffer a permanent, life-changing injury.” It is against Kansas law to carry passengers in a truck bed.

Safe Kids Kansas also recommends these precautions:
  • Don’t let kids play on or near farm equipment. Turn off powered equipment when kids are nearby, and make sure safety shields are properly attached.
  • Make sure heating devices such as wood stoves and space heaters are properly ventilated. Have your chimneys clea ned every year. Also, install smoke alarms on every inhabited level and in every sleeping area of your home. Test them once a month and change the batteries twice a year, or use alarms with 10-year lithium batteries.
  • Homes with fuel-burning heat sources should also be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors — a buildup of this odorless, invisible gas can be deadly.
  • Kids should always wear equestrian helmets when riding a horse or pony. Don’t let kids ride without supervision, and select horses with child-friendly temperaments.
  • Make safe, designated play areas on the farm, physically separated from animals, farm equipment and bodies of water.
  • If it is necessary to walk along rural roads not marked for pedestrians, teach kids to walk on the shoulder of the road facing oncoming traffic (the left side) and to walk in a single file line, wearing retro-reflective clothing or decals.

National Farm Safety & Health Week is a program of the National Safety Council’s National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. For details, visit For more information about child passenger safety, drowning or fire prevention visit:

Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Norton, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide , a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For more information visit