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Rural child safety

3-minute read

Adventurous play is a wonderful part of childhood. We want our children to enjoy the outdoors, learn and have fun, but also to stay safe. As parents, it pays to be aware of potential hazards in country areas and how to manage them. There are many resources that can help.

Child safety on farms and rural properties

Drowning is the main cause of death of children on farms, making up around 4 in 10 child farm deaths. Young children need close supervision near any body of water. Most drowning deaths occur in dams, but children can also drown in creeks, water tanks, troughs, dips and irrigation channels.

Young children should be kept away from water hazards, such as dams, by physical barriers, or be closely supervised by an adult. Early swimming lessons and helping children to get used to being in the water is helpful. It’s a great idea for parents to learn first aid and resuscitation.

The Royal Lifesaving Society has a factsheet on safe swimming in rivers and creeks.

Other causes of injury on farms include vehicles (especially quad bikes), other machinery and horses.

It is recommended that farming families select a safe play area, with secure fencing and gates between small children and any hazards. Outside this area, young children should be in the company of a responsible adult. Dangerous chemicals should be locked away.

To read more about keeping your child safe when living on or visiting a farm, visit the Farmsafe Australia website.

Safety in the bush

Families can reduce the risk of injury or illness while bushwalking by following basic safety guidelines. See the National Parks and Wildlife Service website for more information.

Australian wildlife can pose risks, but most animals are usually not dangerous if they are left alone. Visit the Australian Museum website to access more information.

Find out more on bites and stings on the healthdirect website.

Sun safety in rural areas

Skin cancer rates in Australia are among the highest in the world. Having too much sun as a child can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.

Parents can reduce their children’s risk by applying sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, and providing shade. Visit the Cancer Council website for more tips.

Learn about how to keep your child safe

Kidsafe Australia has information available on topics such as safety around animals, poisoning prevention, trampoline safety, water safety and making your backyard play-safe. Visit Kidsafe and click on your state to access guidelines.

What should I do if my child is injured?

You can learn first aid through St John Ambulance, the Australian Red Cross or the Royal Lifesaving Society.

If your child is severely injured or unwell, contact emergency services by calling triple zero (000).

If you live in a remote community without access to a hospital, the Royal Flying Doctor Service may be able to assist you.

You can also phone healthdirect on 1800 022 222 at any time to speak to a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) or use the healthdirect Symptom Checker.

Many parents choose to keep a list of emergency contact numbers to use in case of crisis.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2021


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Need more information?

Child safety on farms | National Centre for Farmer Health

Children who live on farms are more likely to be injured or killed on the farm than their parents or other farm workers. Around 20 children under the age of 15 years die every year in Australia as a result of farm injuries. Machinery, tractors, animals and water can all be dangerous for farm children. Read more...

Read more on National Centre for Farmer Health website

Water safety for kids | Raising Children Network

Close adult supervision at all times is the key to drowning prevention and water safety for kids around dams, ponds, swimming pools, beaches and lakes.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Child safety at home: checklist | Raising Children Network

Child safety at home is about supervision, a safe environment, and teaching children about what is and isn’t safe. It’s important to know first aid and CPR.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Dangerous & poisonous plants: child safety | Raising Children Network

Keep children safe in the garden by removing, fencing off or not growing poisonous plants and dangerous plants. This guide has pictures of plants to avoid.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Children and animals | National Centre for Farmer Health

Children get great enjoyment from farm life and naturally gravitate towards animals. However, animals can cause injuries and children need to be taught the dangers of being around livestock and other animals. Read more...

Read more on National Centre for Farmer Health website

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This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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