Stories of children perishing in farm accidents are still prevalent, spiking from July to September, despite recent reports showing a 60 per cent decrease in fatalities for Alberta children over a 22-year period.
Lacombe County has taken a preventative approach to rural fatalities by hosting the annual Farm Safety Day at the Lacombe County Administration Building. Over 300 grade five students from the area rotate between seven interactive sessions during the day, said Jalene Makus, agriculture coordinator with Lacombe County.
“We started our Farm Safety Day about four years ago and it was based on that we just wanted to get farm safety out there more. I know there was a few incidents at that time where safety was an issue out on the landscape so we wanted it to be a priority,” Makus said.
About 60 km from the safety event is the family farm outside of Withrow, Alta. where three sisters died in a canola accident four years ago. The memory of Catie Bott, 13, and twin sisters Jana and Dara Bott, 11, are still remembered in farming communities today.
The twins were about the same age as the school children that gathered for Lacombe County’s Farm Safety Day.
“Grade five kids are starting to use lawnmowers and starting to be a little bit more independent so we just think it’s a good age to start teaching kids that kind of awareness so that when they’re out by themselves, they’re a little bit more educated, and that goes for farm or non-farm kids,” Makus said.
Organized by stations, children surround the speakers who discuss the risks of farm equipment, pesticides and wildlife. At the grain station, a model silo is filled with grain, where Jim Davenport of the Clive Seed Cleaning Plant places a small figurine.
In grain, any small movement only sinks you further, pushing the air out of your body, he explained, urging the children to get help immediately from an adult if there is an accident.