Grain entrapment is one of the least understood hazards in today's family farm operations. Within the past three decades, more than 200 farmers or family members have died from grain suffocation in the United States. One-third of all people trapped in flowing grain are children. Grain-producing states often report one or two of these preventable deaths every year. A three year study from 1997-1999 conducted by SPRAINS (Sentinel Project Researching Agricultural Injuries Notification Systems), shows that suffocation/submersion accounted for 8.7% of farm-related fatal injuries on Iowa farms.

With today's high-capacity loading and unloading systems, people are helpless in flowing grain within seconds. Workers also may be trapped in grain when a horizontal bridge of crusted grain collapses, or in the avalanche of a vertical grain wall inside a bin.

Countless people have experienced a "close call," that is, they have found themselves either trapped in grain or swept through an outlet in flowing grain. The most common remark of survivors is that they never anticipated the tremendous force of grain.

Children, who may be intrigued by flowing grain are at risk if they choose to investigate this phenomenon. They can be trapped in seconds. Suffocation can result.

The following are a few rules you may want to implement to prevent your farm family from becoming a tragic statistic due to grain incidents.

--Always lock access doors to grain storage structures.

--Lock out power to all types of grain-handling equipment.

--Always use the buddy system when you are unloading or loading grain, notifying a second person where you are.

--Never permit children to ride in grain wagons or enter grain storage areas.

--Always know where all family members are (especially children) at all times when grain is being loaded, unloaded, moved or otherwise handled.

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