This summer, many rural youngsters will be working on farms, caring for younger siblings, or just staying home alone as parents work. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation offers some health and safety tips:
- Parents must establish safety rules and boundaries for children who are old enough to stay home alone. That includes being careful about what they share on social media, since posts may alert others that they're home alone.
- Make sure teens who are babysitting younger siblings know what to do in an emergency.
- Identify a trusted neighbor who can stop in periodically and check in on kids at home.
- If children will be preparing meals while parents are away, make sure they understand how to safely use kitchen appliances such as the stove, the microwave, and knives. Adults should also make sure kids know how to prevent fires and burns and what to do if one should occur.
- Kids also need to be reminded about the risks and safety precautions involved with farming equipment, how to appropriately use personal protective equipment while completing some tasks, and the importance of staying hydrated and taking breaks on hot days.
- Adults should warn youth of the dangers of "cutting corners" to get a task finished more quickly, or looking at one's phone while working.
- No matter what youth are doing outside, adults should remind them to wear sunscreen and reapply every two hours, or more often if swimming or sweating.