No playing around

East Elementary School students learn the dangers of farm life

Exit a vehicle near a downed power line the wrong way, and you could die. Stand behind a horse that's a little bit rowdy, and you could die.

It happens, say officials from the Colorado State University Moffat County Cooperative extension office and the national group the Progressive Agriculture Foundation.

Each year, children of all ages die on America's farms and ranches because they lacked proper safety skills.

Tuesday's Progressive Agri--culture Safety Day, which took place at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, sought to educate children on safety techniques through hands-on activities. Sixty third-graders from East Elementary School participated in Safety Day.

Elisa Shackelton, Moffat County extension agent and coordinator of Tuesday's event, said rural children often see farm and livestock operations as "exciting playgrounds." But, because farms often have livestock and dangerous equipment, they can be breeding grounds for injuries and deaths to those who aren't careful, she said.

"There are so many hazardous situations," Shackelton said. "This just helps kids learn how to prevent situations that could cause injury or even death."

Brian Thornton of the Yampa Valley Electric Association spoke to students about electricity and safety. He also demonstrated how to exit a vehicle when a power line is laying on it.

"I need to jump away from the car and land with both feet," he said, plopping down on the concrete after hurling himself away from a Jeep. When walking away, you should shuffle or hop, he said.

Thornton said he preferred to shuffle.

"I like the sound, I like the closeness to the ground," he said, much to the amusement of the class.

He told kids, if ever in the situation, do not to worry about leaving their car behind.

"I just want to leave it there," Thornton said. "It's replaceable, but we aren't."

Elementary school student Sammy Parker said he learned quite a bit Tuesday, particularly about the dangers of trains.

"I never realized how heavy the train and the tracks are, so I'll definitely stay away from the tracks," Parker said.

Safety lessons were divided into two sessions Tuesday.

The sessions covered other areas such as animal, fire, road, lawn, equipment and sun safety. Participating groups included Union Pacific Railroad, Craig Animal Control, Tri-State Equipment, Craig Fire/Rescue and the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department.

Thirty parents and 10 students with the El Pomar Youth Community Service organization also helped with Safety Day.

For more information on farm safety, call Shackelton at 824-9180.

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