Harvest is here, that means farmers are already moving equipment on roads, harvesting their crop, and hauling it to elevators. Over the next few weeks and months they’ll be working longer hours—starting their days before sunrise without resting until long after sunset. The pressure to keep going can be intense and can lead to accidents, injuries and even death.
This season COUNTRY Financial® is urging farmers to take extra caution when out on the road or in their fields and to keep a close watch on their health. The number of accidents and deaths are disturbing, however much can be done to curb them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the leading sources of youth ag-related deaths include:
· Machinery - 23 percent
· Motor vehicles (including ATV’s) - 19 percent
· Drowning - 16 percent
“Farmers are always anxious to get their crops out. They work on tight deadlines, are often up against poor weather and numerous other setbacks. It can be frustrating—but they need to remember to take care of themselves,” said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative at COUNTRY Financial. “Accidents happen when we’re tired, distracted, stressed and rushed.”
Easy tips for farmers
1. Maintain your equipment. Most farm accidents and deaths involve machinery. Make sure your equipment is maintained according to the manufacturers’ recommendations.
2. Avoid driving machinery on roads at dawn and dusk. Most accidents happen during these times of day. The morning and afternoon/evening hours are also peak commuting times for drivers heading to and from work which only increases the chances of accidents.
3. Tell family and helping hands where you’ll be working and when. Let others know where you are. Also, have a cell phone or two-way radio on you at all times in case of emergencies or accidents. Keep your electronics charged and on the ready. Plan to communicate at set times of the day to ensure everyone is safe and okay.
4. Get plenty of rest and take frequent breaks. Drink plenty of fluids frequently and have healthy snacks on hand to keep your energy levels up. Accidents are more likely to happen once fatigue sets in.
5. Familiarize yourself with how your prescriptions and over the counter medications affect reaction time. Some medications and machinery don’t mix. Consult your doctor if your medications make you feel drowsy or impair your ability to safely operate your equipment.
6. Know your limitations. Don’t push your mind and body past safe, healthy limits. Know when to stop for the day and when to stay in bed if you feel sick.
7. Keep combines and tractors clean and lubricated. Avoid fires by cleaning off your equipment each day and following the manufacturer’s lubrication schedule.
“Farmers should make safety a priority,” said Vanasdale. “Make sure to follow maintenance schedules, don’t take shortcuts if equipment breaks down, and make sure your equipment is visible on the road. Check your lights, slow-moving vehicle emblems and reflective tape, ensuring they’re more visible to other drivers.”
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Tips for playing it safe this season: Millions of Americans have already purchased their turkey or ham and all of the fixings needed for their annual Thanksgiving Day feast. While many will spend the holiday surrounded by family and friends, others will spend it and the days surrounding it in the emergency room.
“After working in the kitchen all day on Thanksgiving, the last thing you want to do is drive to the emergency room with severe burns, or clean up from a bad fire,” said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative at COUNTRY Financial®.
Thanksgiving Day holds the yearly record for cooking-related fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). With the increasing use of turkey fryers, these numbers continue to increase.
Thanksgiving by the numbers
· Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve
· Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths according to 2014 NFPA data
· Cooking equipment was involved in almost half (48 percent) of all reported home fires and civilian and tied with heating equipment for the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
To ensure your Thanksgiving is fire free, we suggest following these five tips to stay safe in the kitchen:
1. Test your smoke detectors and check your fire extinguisher the day before you begin cooking. This will give you time to buy replacement batteries or extinguishers. Don’t forget to have a kitchen rated fire extinguisher on hand. It will do a better job of putting out grease fires.
2. Think twice before frying. Frying a turkey requires cooking a substantial amount of oil at very high temperatures which could easily lead to severe burns and devastating grease fires. Consider using an oil-less air fryer to create the same taste instead. If you are deep frying a turkey, use the fryer outside and on the bare ground or driveway. Do not use the fryer on a wood deck, under a tent or on top of a tarp. Make sure to keep people away from the hot grease.
3. Keep kids preoccupied. Keep children safe by designating the kitchen as a no-play zone. Plan alternate activities they can do in a nearby room. If you have younger helpers on hand, never leave them unattended.
4. Stay near the kitchen. A whole turkey takes a while to cook, but if you need to leave the kitchen, designate someone to watch the stove. Fires can cause damage almost instantly.
5. Reduce heat when possible. Remember, stovetop items containing oil and other liquids splash when boiling or simmering. Protect your hands and upper arms with gloves or potholders when possible.
“Some of these tips may seem like a no-brainer but people often forget safety basics when they’re multitasking and pressed for time,” said Vanasdale. “The added stress of the holidays can also lead to poor judgment and unwanted injuries.”
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