Electronic bracelet helps keep track of kids in farmyard

SEDLEY, Sask. – Joe and Wendy Wecker want to put a stop to tragic tales of farm accidents involving children.

Earlier this month, during Agritechnica in Hanover, Germany, the producers from Sedley, Sask., signed a deal to bring a safety device to North America.

The Kinderfinder is designed to prevent runovers by alerting drivers that children are nearby.

Two years ago, the device won a gold medal for innovation at Agritechnica, the world’s largest agricultural machinery exhibition.

The Weckers will be at Canadian Western Agribition in Regina this week to show farmers how Kinderfinder works.

It includes a portable alarm box that plugs into a vehicle’s lighter or power outlet.

Children wear a bracelet with a radio frequency identification transmitter that sends signals to the receiver. As soon as the child is within 100 metres of the vehicle, the alarm alerts the driver that the child is nearby.

“It’s peace of mind,” said Hans Wecker, Joe’s father and grandfather to the couple’s three young children.

The system doesn’t replace the need to keep an eye on children, Joe added, but is an extra tool.

“Most of the time stuff happens when you’re in a hurry and don’t look,” he said.

This year’s late harvest is an example of the pressure and stress that could easily result in distracted equipment operators.

Wendy said her son, who is two-and-a-half, makes a beeline for machinery as soon as he sees it come into the farmyard.

“We hook it on his belt,” she said of the bracelet, which resembles a watch.

His twin sister, however, prefers to wear the bracelet on her wrist.

Children aren’t able to open the radio frequency transmitter so there is no chance it can be turned off.

The receiver can be easily moved between vehicles and equipment.

“I used it mostly in my sprayer,” said Joe, while Hans used it while driving the grain truck.

The Weckers will take orders for the units at Agribition. The price was still to be determined before the show but will be less than $1,000 for a receiver and one wrist bracelet. Single wristbands can also be purchased.

Wendy said the units aren’t cheap, but parents have to decide what their children’s safety is worth and how the cost factors into their overall budgets.

“What do you spend on your farm?” she said. “What do you value your kids’ safety at?”

The wristbands will work with any Kinderfinder receivers, so if children are visiting another farm where there is a receiver, they can wear their bands from home.

The batteries should be tested every so often and replaced every two years.

The Weckers see other applications for Kinderfinder. It can be used on pets, on construction sites, in warehouses, in forestry operations and by elderly or deaf people.

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