Some 180,000 families are living off the grid in the United States, a number increasing exponentially each year, the Inertia reports. Raising children on a homestead helps teach them the value of working hard, self-reliance, and gives them a stronger connection to nature. However, safety is of course a major concern for homesteading parents. If you have a baby on the way, itâ€™s important to baby-proof your homestead to ensure they stay safe and out of harm’s way at all times.
Basic safety check
Make sure dangerous areas of your homestead are fenced off and marked as â€œoff limitsâ€ (water troughs, ponds, and manure pits). Use a quality, strong fencing material over barbed wire. Make sure tools and equipment are kept locked in a shed or sealed in a storage bin. Water hoses should be secured with a hose reel or cart â€” you donâ€™t want your toddler to trip or ingest run off water. Keep hazardous chemicals or medications clearly labelled and locked in the shed and out of your babyâ€™s reach. Inspect your farm frequently for hazardous items and substances which need clearing away.
Maintaining and operating machinery
A child dies from a farm-related injury every three days and a total of 38 children are injured on farms each day, the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety reveals. Maintaining and operating machinery responsibly is essential for avoiding accidents and making your homestead safe for little ones. Never leave any keys in the machinery when itâ€™s not in use. Fix breakages or hazards as soon as you notice them and turn off all equipment before getting started on repairs. Never let children operate the machinery â€” theyâ€™re simply not mature enough. Donâ€™t let toddlers or children run and play around farming equipment. Babies should be kept away from louder machinery, and young children should be made to wear earplugs.
Create a play area
Young children love exploring. Toddlers can end up in the most unexpected places if left to their own devices. Of course, your role as parent involves supervising your children at all times. However, creating a defined play area to keep them contained can make your job a lot easier and increase the safety of your home. Build a play area in a suitable location away from any dangerous areas. It should also be partially-shaded to protect from the sun. Make sure itâ€™s fenced in securely with childproof latches on gates. Any protruding bolts or screws should be protected with plastic safety caps. A well-designed play area can be a fun way of getting your little one used to the sounds and sights of homesteading life.
As your baby grows, teach them the importance of safety and to get an adult if theyâ€™re ever in a dangerous situation. For example, children can become easily stuck in grain silos (which they should therefore not be allowed to play in). But, if this happens, any other child present should always get an adult rather than venturing into the silo themselves. While itâ€™s impossible to make a homestead completely safe, thereâ€™s plenty you can do to make it as safe as possible for your baby.