Kristi Ruth, a Farm Safety Advocate’s Story

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

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February 18, 2007 is a day that Kristi Ruth will never forget. For Kristi, this beautiful winter morning at the family farm in Eastern Iowa started out like any typical Sunday, spending time with the family and taking part in a variety of barn chores. 15-year old Kristi was assisting her dad and two brothers drilling post holes to put in a head chute for the new heifers the family recently purchased at a sale. What happened next left Kristi with a life-altering injury and a haunting memory for her and her family.

After several attempts of unsuccessfully getting the auger to pierce through the frost covered ground that February morning, Kristi’s dad yelled, “that’s enough, we’re done!” and decided to move onto another project around the farm. Kristi’s brothers were not ready to give up without a fight and tried other tactics to get the digger to cooperate. All the while Kristi was understanding the danger of the situation after just receiving a gold medal with her farm safety speech through FFA a week prior. Kristi’s number one concern was her family’s safety and took extra precautions assuring nothing was dangling from her brother’s clothes that could get caught in the equipment, but as the digger began to shake even more and started hitting the side of the barn with each unsuccessful rotation of the auger, Kristi instinctively reached out to hold it with one hand on top and another on the bottom.

As the tractor was shutting off and the digger was winding down, Kristi’s brother helped to retract her hands. As she bent her wrist, the auger cupped her leather glove and at the exact moment the shear bolt on the PTO shaft came around. The PTO had grabbed her glove and sucked her in. Kristi’s arm was pulled in and around the PTO shaft clear up to her shoulder. Luckily, the machine was shutting down and her arm only wrapped 6 times stopping when her torso and chest slammed into the brace bar. With just one more rotation, Kristi would have been decapitated. Once Kristi’s arm was free, she was quickly life-flighted to Des Moines. There Kristi’s family heard the tragic news that her arm would likely need to be amputated; however, after making her way to the University of Iowa and undergoing countless procedures, her arm was saved and her long road to recovery began.

Kristi became a farm safety advocate prior to her personal experience after losing an uncle in a tractor rollover incident in 2005, a role she still holds today as a coordinator with the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program. “I would never wish what happened to me, upon anyone. Don’t risk your livelihood, your safety or that of someone else’s. I know how important calving season and the last few bushels of harvest are, but so is your life! The key is to have balance and not rush into things. Think through situations and about the outcomes for people around you as well as yourself!” ~Kristi Ruth

For more on Kristi’s story, check out this great video from Iowa State University http://iowapublicradio.org/post/kristi-ruth-talks-about-nearly-losing-her-arm-farm-accident#stream/0

If you are interested in conducting a 2016 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® for your school or community, applications are being accepted through July 15, 2015. To apply to host a Safety Day or for more information about the program, visit www.progressiveag.org

Join the Crusade to Bring Safety & Health Information to the Farming and Rural Communities Who Desperately Need It!

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

 Progressive Agriculture Safety Days were created to keep one of your most valuable and irreplaceable possessions safe…..your children!

Many in the agriculture industry know someone whose life has been affected by a farm-related injury or death. What is most disturbing is many of these incidents could have been prevented with a few simple safety precautions. A Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, a program of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, provides education, training and a variety of resources for local communities to conduct a one-day safety and health program. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Safety Day within their local community.

Progressive Agriculture Safety Days are designed to be age-appropriate, hands-on, fun, and safe for all children. They are conducted in more than 400 local communities throughout North America. Since 1995, more than 1.3 million children and adults have been impacted through Safety Days. With 28 topics ranging from ATV, PTO, & Tractor Safety to Electricity & Gun Safety, each Safety Day has the freedom to focus on safety-related issues appropriate for their community. Whether participants live on or off the farm, a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® helps children and their communities becoming safer, healthier and happier!

So what exactly do children really learn at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®?

  • “I will wear ear plugs around loud machinery.”
  • “I will always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or ATV.”
  • “Never play in the grain bin!”
  • “I will learn my address and make an evacuation plan in the event of a fire.”
  • “I am going to tell my parents everything I learned, so we can stay safe together!”

These are just a few of the statements that our participants are making after attending a Safety Day. For many coordinators and planning committee members, the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® is one of their favorite and most rewarding days of the year, as they get to make a positive, lasting impression on the young people in their community. If just one child leaves Safety Day and adopts one new safety practice or educates their family and friends about hidden hazards and potential dangers around their home, ranch or farm, it is all worth it!

If you are interested in conducting a 2016 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® for your school or community, applications are being accepted through July 15. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation provides training and resources for the Safety Day Coordinator, as well as t-shirts, take-home bags and insurance coverage for all youth participants and adult volunteers involved. To apply or learn more about the program visit www.progressiveag.org

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Photo Caption: Who knew learning about safety could be so much fun? At each Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, presenters strive to make safety stations both educational and hands-on to reinforce lessons. Participants learn by doing and have fun in the process like these participants at a Safety Day in Alabama.

Proper Hand Hygiene Helps Prevent the Spread of Germs

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Now that spring has sprung, hopefully the cold and flu season will soon be history. One way we can guard ourselves against potential germs is by actively washing our hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand washing is like a “do it yourself” vaccine. However, there are no needles needed for this vaccine, it only takes soap, water, and a little of your time.

Regular hand washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Unfortunately, with our busy schedules we sometimes don’t take the time to wash our hands as often as we should. Washing hands should be done when taking part in any of the following activities:

  • Preparing or eating food
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Treating wounds or injuries
  • Caring for a sick or injured person
  • Touching an animal or handling pet food
  • Blowing your nose, as well as coughing or sneezing in your hands
  • Shaking hands with others
  • Handling garbage, household chemicals, or anything else contaminated

We accumulated a variety of germs from our day-to-day interactions and can easily infect ourselves by touching our eyes, nose, or mouth. Washing hands properly and effectively requires the following steps:

  1. Wet hands with running water.
  2. Apply soap (liquid, powder, or bar).
  3. Work into a lather and rub hands together for at least 20 seconds. For young children, encouraging them to sing songs, such as the “ABC song” or “Happy Birthday” twice can help them remember to wash for a set amount of time.
  4. Before rinsing with clean running water, don’t forget to scrub the backs of your hands, wrist, and between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer. If possible, avoid turning off the faucet with your clean hands and use a disposable towel or your elbow.
  6. If you are unable to wash hands with soap and water, apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is recommended to use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hand hygiene is especially important for children in child care settings. Young children cared for in groups outside the home are at greater risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, which can easily spread to family members and other contacts.

Last year, healthy lifestyles was a topic taught at 28% of Progressive Agriculture Safety Days. These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend one of 440 Safety Days offered throughout North America. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Safety Day within their local community. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org

Photo Caption: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held in Iowa, participants demonstrate proper hand washing techniques during a healthy lifestyles activity.

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Seeing is Believing – Tips to Support Eye Safety & Health

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

They say the eyes are the windows to the world! Unfortunately, thousands of Americans suffer an eye injury each day. Many of these injuries occur in the workplace including farms, where young children are actively present. Exposure to chemicals, sunlight, gases, vapors and even debris in the air can have a lasting impact on the health of your eyes. With March serving as eye safety & wellness month, we want to offer you some eye-opening tips to save your vision!

In addition to being painful, eye injuries cause many lost workdays for adults and missed school days for children. Eye injuries can also lead to permanent vision loss. An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from vision loss, which in certain cases can be prevented. Following these tips will help keep your eyes safe and your vision healthy all year long:

  1. Wearing Eye Protection: Consistently wearing properly fitted safety glasses or goggles while working with or around chemicals can make a huge impact on your eyes. Additionally, safety glasses are important when riding on various farm & lawn equipment. Depending on the task, safety glasses with side shields or face shields can be used for extra protection. Proper eye protection is also necessary for many leisure activities from ATV riding to playing sports. When working outside, sunglasses can aid in preventing the development of cataracts, retinal damage, and also protect your skin from cancer. Be sure your sunglasses provide 100% ultraviolet protection from both the UVA rays and UVB rays.
  2. Eye Examinations: From an early age, children should take part in yearly eye exams. Visits with an optometrist or ophthalmologist can help determine if medical issues are prevalent including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Other conditions such as autoimmune diseases, high cholesterol, diabetes, and thyroid conditions can also be identified in routine eye exams. Uncorrected vision problems have accounted for a variety of avoidable accidents.
  3. Proper Nutrition: Nutrition is essential in eye health. Vegetables, especially leafy green ones, should be an important part of the daily diet. Diets with higher levels of vitamin C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids can aid is eye health.
  4. Avoid Eye Fatigue: In recent years, increased use of smartphones, tablets, and computers have been shown to have an impact on our vision. If you notice eyestrain from working on one of these devices, The American Optometric Association recommends following the 20- 20-20 rule. Look up from your work every 20 minutes and focus at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you notice problems and they persist, it is important to be checked for proper prescription of eye glasses, contact lenses, as well as other medical conditions.

These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. This year, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Safety Day within their local community. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org

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Photo Caption: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day held last spring in Minnesota, a participant demonstrates safe practices, including wearing safety goggles to provide eye protection, while assembling a bird house during a workshop on hand tool safety.

A Safe & Healthy Life Can Be Gained By Staying Out of Grain

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Growing up on a farm can be a very rewarding experience. From a young age, children have the opportunity to receive a first-rate agricultural education, learn responsibilities, gain a strong work ethic, and value our dedicated farmers. Unfortunately, with access to chemicals, animals and large equipment, farms can also be a dangerous playground for curious, unsupervised children.

The Progressive Agriculture Foundation is a proud supporter of Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety Week. Along with Nationwide, the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program is committed to reducing the number of preventable injuries and deaths associated with grain handling and storage.

Grain safety is a very significant topic taught at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days each year. In recent years, 36% of our Safety Days had a grain safety component offered. From identifying the difficulty breathing underneath grain to observing how grain flows and how quickly entrapment can take place, participants have the opportunity to take part in a variety of hand-on activities and demonstrations. The following key safety areas are emphasized with all Safety Day participants:

  1. Always stay out of flowing grain. A very sobering fact is that it only takes 5 seconds to become helpless in flowing grain and within another 10 seconds a person can become completely submerged.
  2. Never walk or play in or around stored grain.
  3. Never enter a grain bin, wagon, or truck.
  4. Never enter a grain bin while the unloading auger or suction tube is operating.

Another important issue when it comes to grain safety is to avoid confusing children by sending mixed messages. At places like pumpkin patches and local parks, sand boxes have been replaced by corn. A young child will have trouble understanding the difference between grain in a corn box and grain in a gravity flow box that could engulf them in seconds.

In addition to reinforcing the importance of staying out of grain, Safety Days also teach participants what to do in case of an emergency involving grain. These safety tips include:

  1. Turning off any equipment that is causing the grain to flow or move. This will stop the person from being pulled further underneath the grain.
  2. Always assuming the victim is alive and take the necessary measures to help the situation. This may include turning on aeriation fans and assuring dryer heat is turned off.
  3. Calling for help immediately and never attempting to pull someone out of grain on your own. Many professionals including firefighters, paramedics, and EMT’s have been trained to properly use grain bin rescue equipment. With rescue tubes and training as the theme of this year’s Grain Bin Safety Week, we hope that even more fire departments in rural areas will receive the proper training and equipment to aid in a successful rescue.

These grain safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. This year, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Safety Day within their local community. Learn more at http://www.progressiveag.org

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PhotoA Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participant in Eastern Iowa realizes how much force holds people in grain by attempting to pull an object out from the grain filled container during an entrapment activity.

Are You Prepared? 8 Tips to Keep Safe in Severe Weather Conditions

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

As we kick-off the New Year, many begin making a variety of resolutions embarking on a fresh start. From quitting bad habits to vowing to be healthier, some resolutions fade quickly while others last well into the year. One thing many fail to think about is making a resolution for a safer new year. Whether adopting a new safety practice or being more consistent acting on current practices, safety should be a priority 365 days a year!

We have little to no time to prepare for inclement weather. Tornadoes, floods, blizzards, hail, ice, rain, and other storms can happen in the blink of eye. Few families have a plan in place in the event severe weather strikes while at home, on the farm, or while traveling by vehicle. Here are a few tips to help prepare you and keep you safe in the event of a weather emergency:

  • As a family project, create an emergency plan as to what you would do if severe weather hits. In many cases you have very little time to think, so having a plan in place can definitely be a life saver!
  • Severe storms can knock out power lines, so having a battery or crank-powered radio can be helpful to stay current on weather conditions. Have a flashlight, extra batteries, a supply of long-term food, and blankets stored together and easily accessible.
  • Most cellular phones have options to receive free alerts if bad weather is expected quickly, so be sure to look into signing-up to receive these messages.
  • Evaluate safety on your home or farm on a day-to-day basis to prevent damage due to a storm. Assure things like dead trees and tree branches are cut down. Don’t put potential hazards on the back burner to take care of another day, but address immediately. If time permits, secure any items around the home or farm that can be thrown around by the wind. Items such as lawn furniture and garbage cans can cause damage to property, as well as cause injury to others.
  • Although you and your family’s safety is most important, don’t forget about animals and livestock. Be sure to find them shelter in a barn, garage, or your home and make sure they have a supply of food and water.
  • Avoid standing near fireplaces, windows, and doors. For tornados and high wind storms, seek shelter in a basement or secure area.
  • Purchase or put together an emergency preparedness kit for your vehicle. From food, water, and other supplies, most kits provide a sufficient quantity lasting up to 72 hours.
  • Look into emergency response teams available in your community. Support their efforts by either becoming trained & volunteering or by making a donation of goods or money.

These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. In 2014, more than 100,000 children & adults participated in a Safety Day within their local community. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org