Let’s Take the Backache out of Back to School

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Backpack Safety 3As summer comes to an end, many parents have started the preparations to get their children back to school ready. New clothes, shoes and school supplies, including backpacks, are always among the list of must haves. Unfortunately, after the school year kicks-off, backpacks come home most nights packed full and difficult for youngsters to carry. According to the National Safety Council, backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, including back pain, shoulder pain and poor posture.

If you’ve been concerned about the effects that extra weight might have on your child’s still-growing body, your instincts are correct! You may have noticed your child struggling to put it on, bending forward while carrying it, or complaining of tingling or numbness. The good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent injury. While it’s common these days to see children carrying as much as a quarter of their body weight, the American Chiropractic Association recommends a backpack weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s weight. Here are 6 tips to consider when selecting a backpack:

  1. Choose a backpack with an ergonomic design. Although a roomy backpack may seem like a good idea, the more space there is to fill, the more likely your child will fill it. Make sure your child uses both straps when carrying the backpack. Using one strap shifts the weight to one side and causes muscle pain and posture problems.
  2. Select the correct size. A backpack should never be wider or longer than your child’s torso and never hanging more than 4 inches below the waist.
  3. Look for backpacks with padded back and shoulder straps.
  4. Hip and chest belts can help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso and multiple compartments to better distribute the weight. Compression straps on the sides or bottom will help to stabilize the contents.
  5. Reflective material on backpacks will help provide extra safety if your child walks to and from school and will help them be seen more clearly.
  6. Rolling backpacks should only be used if completely necessary and if your child has physical limitations. Rolling backpacks tend to clutter school corridors, replacing a potential back injury hazard with a tripping hazard.

Backpack Safety 2Back pain impacts both youth and adults. According to Nebraska AgrAbility, 37% to 41% of farmers which include teen workers, report lower back pain. Back pain is also the most common cause of job-related disability. Participants at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® learn about these risk factors and that back injury prevention starts at a young age. Since 1995, more than 1.4 million children and adults have been impacted through Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program. To apply to host a Safety Day or for more information about the program, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

Photos: Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants learn to “loosen the load” when it comes to backpacks and other heavy lifting.

Make Sure Your Skin is Not Overdone with Too Much Fun in the Sun

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Sun Bead BraceletDid you know the skin is the body’s largest organ? Our skin protects us from heat, sunlight, injury and infection; however, many of us do not make it a priority to protect our skin on a daily basis. July serves as UV (Ultraviolet) Safety Month and reminds us why damage to our skin today can have serious long-term effects.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 90% of non-melanoma and 86% of melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns. However, regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40% and the risk of developing melanoma by 50%.

Safeguard your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun by following these 6 simple steps:

  1. Wear clothing that will protect your skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays. Don’t be fooled by cloudy days and winter months, as harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are still present.
  2. Protect your eyes. According to the CDC, some of the more common sun-related vision problems include cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that can obstruct vision) are caused by exposure to the sun. Be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat or wrap-around style sunglasses with 99 or higher UV block.
  3. Avoid sunburns, as they significantly increase one’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.
  4. Seek shade, especially during 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are their strongest.
  5. Use extra caution when near reflective surfaces, like water, snow, and sand that can reflect damaging rays. Also, use extra caution when at higher altitudes due to less atmosphere to absorb UV radiation.
  6. Generously apply broad-spectrum sunscreen over exposed skin. Be sure to re-apply every two hours, especially after sweating or swimming.

Last year, sun safety was a topic taught at 36% of all Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®. During the sun safety station, presenters explain the behaviors that can help prevent skin cancer, help participants understand the importance of skin care and skin cancer prevention, and describe how to complete a skin self-exam and identification of skin cancer warning signs.

Do you want to coordinate a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® for your community? Visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529 for more information or to apply. With lessons for more than 28 topics, each Safety Day has the freedom to focus on safety and health-related issues appropriate for their community. Annually, more than 400 local community and school Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® are conducted throughout North America.

Photo: During a sun safety station at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, participants take part in hands-on activities involving ultraviolet detecting beads to learn the dangers of excessive sun exposure.

5 Ways to Celebrate National Safety Month this June

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

898Safety is no accident! Making safe decisions are choices we make day-in and day-out throughout our entire life. In an effort to help save lives and prevent injuries, the National Safety Council has highlighted June as National Safety Month. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation also supports this initiative. Whether in the workplace, on the roadway, at home or on the farm, these five tips will help keep you, your families and your entire community safer, healthier and happier.

  1. Stand Ready to Respond – Keep emergency numbers nearby and add them as contacts in your cell phone. Always watch children around the home or farm, so they are never left unsafe or unsupervised around water, chemicals or grain. Be proactive and become certified in first aid and CPR.
  2. Be Healthy – Safeguard your health by being aware of medication interactions and keep all medications out of a child’s reach. Adopt a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a balanced diet, exercise and getting plenty of sleep.
  3. Watch Out for Dangers – Be sure to analyze your home or farm for hidden hazards to avoid slips and falls. Also, pay attention when walking. Distractions, such as cell phones, can cause you to walk into someone or something.
  4. Share Roads Safely – From newly licensed teens to aging drivers with health condition, strive to make good driving choices. Ensure that focusing on the road and avoiding distractions are a top priority.
  5. Commit to Host a Safety Day – If you are interested in conducting a 2017 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® for your community, applications are being accepted through July 15, 2016. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation provides training and resources for the Safety Day Coordinator, as well as t-shirts, take-home bags and insurance coverage for all youth participants and adult volunteers involved. To apply to host a Safety Day or for more information about the program, visit progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.

The Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program is the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. Since 1995, more than 1.4 million children and adults have been impacted through Safety Days. With lessons for more than 28 topics, each Safety Day has the freedom to focus on safety and health-related issues appropriate for their community. Annually, more than 400 local community and school Progressive Agriculture Safety Days are conducted throughout North America.

Photo: The vision of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation is that no child will become ill, injured or die from farm, ranch and rural activities. Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®, like this event in Eastern Iowa, are designed to be age-appropriate, hands-on, fun and safe for all children.

From Pools to Ponds – Help Your Family Enjoy Water Safely!

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Water Safety 15-687As the end of the school year approaches, the excitement of summer is in the air! From May through September, fun family gatherings bring together children for various activities including camping, cookouts, and of course swimming. When the weather gets hot, the perfect place to cool off is a pool, lake or stream.

Unfortunately, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among 1 to 4 year olds according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Many of these drowning deaths and water-related injuries are highest in the warm weather months. On average, 4,900 children ages 15 & under are treated for water-related injuries in hospital’s emergency departments each year.

With May serving as National Water Safety Month, this is the perfect time to talk with your children about water safety and establish rules for their personal safety in or around water. Here are some tips for your family to keep cool in the pool this summer:

  1. Actively supervise children whenever around water. Stay within an arm’s reach of young children while in the water and avoid distractions.
  2. Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim.
  3. Never swim alone – always have a buddy!
  4. Use properly-fitted personal flotation devices. Always wear life vests when boating.
  5. Obey signs about rules and potential dangers.
  6. Enter the water feet first (one foot at a time) and never dive into shallow water.
  7. Ensure farm ponds are fenced and barriers are in place around home pools or hot tubs.
  8. Have rescue equipment by the water. If you have a friend out in the water – remember to Reach, Throw, Don’t Go into the water, but Go for Help!

Last year, water safety was a lesson offered at 40% of Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® that took place throughout North America. Hands-on activities designed to reinforce water safety is taught using verbal, visual and hands-on learning opportunities.  These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Safety Day. To date, more than 1.4 million children & adults have been impacted by a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in their local community. Learn more about the program at www.progressiveag.org

Photo: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held in Illinois last year, participants learn the importance of properly-fitted personal flotation devices. Through a hands-on water safety activity, participants try on life vests and discuss how they are used properly, they can potentially save their life while in water.

It’s National Safe Digging Month – Be Sure to Call 811 before You Dig!

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

As we embark on spring and get ready to tackle many projects around the home or farm, it 14-616 White Hall, AL (Underground Utilities)is important to call 811, at least a few days before you start any digging project. 811 serves as the common phone number used throughout the United States, which should be called before starting any digging project. This protocol ensures protection from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines. Whether you are planning to conduct a project yourself or hire a professional, calling 811 leads to smart and safe digging each and every time.

April is recognized by the underground utility damage prevention stakeholders as National Safe Digging Month. There are millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of the earth that are vital to everyday living like water, electricity and natural gas. Disrupting these utilities can stop various utility services, as well as present serious safety hazards. The call before you dig process consists of 5 easy steps:

  1. Notify your local one call center by calling 811 (or making an online request) 2-3 days before work begins. This lead time may vary from state to state; therefore, visit call811.com to locate the rules for your state.
  2. Wait the required amount of time for affected utility operators to respond to your request.
  3. Confirm that all affected utility operators have responded to your request and marked underground utilities.
  4. Respect the marks or markers.
  5. Dig carefully around the marks with care.

TransCanada, a leader in the responsible development and reliable operation of North American energy infrastructure, is a proud partner of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation. Recently, TransCanada created an underground utilities safety module for youth, which focuses on two main objectives: The importance of calling 811 before you dig in the United States (and the importance of call or click before you dig in Canada) and pipeline leak recognition and response. The complete module, including curriculum, an interactive display, scratch & sniff cards and children’s activity booklets are available for coordinators use at their local Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®.

Kids love to dig, so it is never too early to teach them about 811 and the importance of safe digging. At Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® throughout North America, activities designed to reinforce underground utilities safety is taught using verbal, visual and hands-on learning opportunities.  These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Safety Day. To date, more than 1.4 million children & adults have been impacted by a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in their local community. Learn more about the program at www.progressiveag.org

Photo: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held in Alabama, participants learn about underground utilities safety and the importance of calling 811 before you dig.

Can Your Child Spot the Difference? Look-a-Like Poisons Pose Dangers to Young Children

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

For young children that cannot read labels, many products around the home can look like popular cndy or drinks. Even products that can be good for you, like vitamins and medicines, can become harmful if you do not follow thChemical Safetye label directions.

In the U.S., poisoning is now the leading cause of unintentional injury death, and nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs according to the NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics). In 2012, unintentional poisonings were the leading cause of injury death in the U.S. surpassing motor vehicle crashes.

Here are some common poison look-a-likes you may find around your home:

  1. Gummy Bears vs. Gummy Vitamins
  2. Chocolate vs. Laxatives
  3. Sports Drinks & Juice vs. Household Cleaners & Mouthwash
  4. Candy vs. Laundry or Dishwasher Pods
  5. Gum vs. Nicotine Gum
  6. Water vs. Bleach or Rubbing Alcohol
  7. Shredded Beef Jerky vs. Chewing Tobacco
  8. Kraft Parmesan Cheese Container vs. Comet Cleanser Container
  9. Toothpaste vs. bathtub caulking
  10. Eye Drops vs. Superglue

Chemical safety is a very popular topic taught at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® and was offered at more than 200 events throughout 2014. During Safety Days, participants learn they should never touch or put anything in their mouth unless they are positive what it is or unless a trusted adult tells them it is safe. As parents, grandparents and caring adults, it is our responsibility to be proactive in keeping children safe. Be sure to:

  • Label harmful products and place them out of reach of children
  • Avoid moving poisons or chemicals from their original container
  • Lead by example and use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when handling chemicals
  • Keep the telephone number of the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) in a place easy to locate in case of an emergency.

These chemical safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. To date, more than 1.4 million children & adults have been impacted by a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in their local community. Learn more about the program at www.progressiveag.org

Photo: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held last year in Minnesota, participants learn that many liquids, powders and tablets in your home or on a farm look like things we eat or drink on a regular basis. Children learn a variety of safety lessons including the importance of properly identifying anything they touch or put in their mouth.

How Close is too Close?

By: Heidi Wagner, Progressive Agriculture Safety Day Coordinator of Woolwich Community Health Centre in St. Jacobs, Ontario

This fall, we all heard the story in the news about the three sisters that were killed on their family farm during harvest season. They were playing in the grain wagon filled with canola seeds and were pulled under the surface once the unloading chute was opened at the bottom. Two of the sisters were pronounced dead at the scene while the third sister later died at the hospital.

A few weeks earlier there was a similar incident where a young boy fell into the grain wagon while trying to retrieve his hat. His grandfather tried to get him out and fell in himself. There were two lives lost that day as well.

There has been some controversy in the agricultural community about how close children should be while farm work is being done. Parents want to introduce their youngsters to the joys and satisfaction of crop and animal production and teach them the value of “a good day’s work”. These are all admiral qualities that children growing up on the farm have. They understand that it takes hard work and determination to make a living at farming.

However, are farm families being too lax with their children’s safety? Large equipment and unpredictable animals pose many hazards for young people still unable to recognize dangers and inexperienced enough to react to avoid injury. Would a factory worker be allowed to bring his child to work in an industrial plant? There are many rules and laws that would prohibit this from happening. There are no rules in place to protect farm children from the getting hurt in the workplace where they live every day!

It is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children about dangers on their farm, where they should play and what areas are off limits to them and their friends and what to do in case something does go wrong. Children need to be taught at a young age that when their parents are “working” they need to stay back out of harm’s way. Grain wagons, tractors and animal pens are not suitable play areas for unsupervised children.

Unfortunately, there will probably be more fatalities in the farming community. Many of them will be young children that were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is every parent’s responsibility to try to keep their children safe, to grow up to be healthy adults. Some of these children may even become involved with agriculture as well. We hope that each generation will be more safety conscience than the last, since equipment gets bigger and more powerful and acreages get larger.

It is better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent! Wishing farmers a safe 2016 as you grow food to feed a hungry population!