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.
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.
Awareness and education are vital to the prevention of grain storage related incidents. Iowa State University has produced an excellent curriculum to help answer many of the real-world questions about the dangers of grain handling. Using math and science principles, kids can learn how to teach their younger siblings and older family members how to stay safe around grain. FS4JK has added educational material for the younger audience and additional activity ideas to teach the concepts of grain safety.
Call FS4JK for information on how you can obtain this curriculum for your school, FFA or 4-H club.