Recently, during one of my daily checks of TheIndyChannel.com, I came across an alarming report.
That report stated that the Purdue University Agricultural Safety and Health Program announced that there have been 46 grain bin entrapments nationwide this year.
That total is four higher than the record previously set in 1993. The increase was somewhat expected due to last year's late harvest and poor crop conditions, which created moldy and caked grain in bins.
There are several things that can increase the danger to farmers as they work with grain in a bin.
They include: Late harvest associated with high moisture; inappropriate drying; moldy corn; and crusted grain.
Farmers need to be extremely careful when dealing with any of those conditions, especially crusted grain. Often, crusted grain appears to be solid but will give once weight is put on it from a farmer trying to remove crusted grain from the center or side of the bin.
As dangerous as it can be to be working around grain, there are still some basic precautions that all farmers should take. For starters, they should install all appropriate ladders inside and outside of a grain bin that are suggested by the builder. Farmers should never use a portable ladder around a grain bin. If at all possible, try to install resting platforms at the top of each ladder to ease the transfer onto the grain bin roof from the ladder. Farmers should always remember to remove all mud from their shoes before climbing and never climb on an icy ladder.
When utilizing a grain truck, farmers should try to install access ladders on all of their trucks. By doing so, they will make it easier on themselves to look into the bed of the truck to see what level the grain is at. Additionally, they should try to install and use roll over tarps to reduce the need to climb on trucks when trying to pull a tarp across it.
Please realize that once an individual becomes waist deep in grain in a bin or in a truck, they will not be able to dig themselves out. Therefore, when working around grain, I would suggest to always work in pairs. That way, in the event of an emergency, there will be someone there who can call emergency personnel. There are two primary methods that emergency personnel utilize when rescuing someone engulfed in grain. The first is to remove the grain from around the victim. This is often done by cutting into the bin and in a specific pattern or using vacuum machines.
Second, they will often use a grain rescue tube (if they possess one), or some other hard item to try to prevent the grain from pressing into the victim from the front.
Please remember never to try to pull someone out of a grain bin once they have been partially engulfed by the grain. By doing so, you stand a chance of causing injury. Instead, you should contact emergency personnel immediately.
No one wants to find out that a loved one or a friend has been engulfed in grain. However, it saddens me to say, that this past year, 25 of the 46 entrapments did result in death.
Farming is a very dangerous career like many others. However, if it wasn't for the sacrifice that farmers give by producing a crop each year, many additional individuals in the world might go hungry.
So please, in the coming weeks, thank your local farmers and tell them you appreciate what they do to provide many individuals with a food source and that you hope they have a long, prosperous and safe career as they work with grain.
As always, if you have any questions, or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Nov. 6-19 -- North American International Livestock Exposition, Louisville, Ky.,
* Nov. 13 -- Nature Gift Ideas Workshop, McCormick's Creek State Park, 1-3 p.m. $3 per person,
* Nov. 16 -- Clay County Extension Board Meeting, 6:30 p.m.,
* Nov. 18-19 -- Indiana Rural Summit, Indianapolis University Place Conference Center and Hotel. Go to www.in.gove/ocra/ruralsummit.htm, for more information, and
* Nov. 19 -- Clay County 4-H Achievement Night, 7 p.m.