Keep Your Holiday Season Merry and Bright by Ensuring Food Safety with Every Bite!

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

From gift giving, decorating and family gatherings, the holiday season should be filled with peace, joy and happiness. Unfortunately, sickness can be an unwanted gift that you cannot return to the store and will surely put a damper on your celebrations. While taking care of others this holiday season, be sure to take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, limiting stress and staying hydrated.

Another concern deals with the food. In addition to monitoring overeating and sugar intake, we need to keep food safety in mind. One gift we should avoid giving our loved ones is food poisoning. As we plan to host holiday parties and family meals, food safety should be a top priority. Here are five important tips to remember when preparing your holiday feast:

  1. Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking. Although some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe, washing before cooking is not recommended according to the USDA. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensil and surfaces, which is commonly referred to as cross-contamination.
  2. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature. Food thermometers are the only reliable way to ensure safety and determine the desired “doneness” of meat, poultry and egg products. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, “Doneness,” refers to when a food is cooked to a desired state and indicates the sensory aspects of foods such as texture, appearance and juiciness. These sensory aspects are subjective. A minimum safe internal temperature for most raw meats, including beef, pork and lamb, is 145 degrees Fahrenheit and 165 degrees for poultry.
  3. Refrigerate food within two hours and be cautious with leftovers. Remember the 2-2-4 Rule. Hot, perishable foods that sit out longer than 2 hours are considered unsafe to eat. The USDA recommends throwing away any such food, as it is in the danger zone, where bacteria can rapidly produce. 2-inches is the desired depth of storage containers, as it allows hot food to cool quickly and evenly. 4 days is the amount of time that refrigerated leftovers are safe to eat.
  4. Wash your hands frequently when handling food.
  5. In addition to food safety, be mindful of basic kitchen and fire safety practices. Use safety with knives and working around hot surfaces and watch small children carefully in the kitchen. Ensure a working smoke detector is installed in the kitchen and a fire extinguisher is in reach. The use of turkey fryers has risen in recent years, but with their popularity, so has injuries and incidents. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been 168 turkey-fryer related fires, burns, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning incidents since 2002 resulting in nearly 672 people injured and $8 million in property damage losses.

10-1016_FoodSafety_6188For 2019, 25 years of Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® will be celebrated with more than 400 events planned in rural communities throughout North America. For more information or to locate a Safety Day near you, visit www.progresiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. Give the gift of safety this holiday season, by helping send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.

Photo: Healthy lifestyles including the components of food safety are offered at many Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® like this event in Indiana. Participants learn about a variety of things like cross-contamination, proper handwashing, as well as the importance of exercise and eating a balanced diet.

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It’s Important to Get Some Sleep, Before Getting Behind the Wheel of a Truck, Tractor or Jeep!

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

Tkd 1868crpdWe all know it’s wrong to drink and drive, but did you realize driving while drowsy is the same as driving impaired?

Nearly 70 million people are sleep deprived or suffer from a sleep disorder according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep deprivation is a major contributor to vehicle crashes. Statistics have found that people tend to fall asleep while driving at high speed, driving long distances or driving on rural roadways. Therefore, to shed light and bring awareness to this important issue, November 4-11, 2018 is recognized as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

We encourage children to get plenty of sleep each night, and as adults we need to take our own advice. However, when the time comes to crawl into bed each night, that is when many thoughts seem to start swirling around in our heads. From stressful triggers like daily responsibilities including finances, work, health, families and relationships to changing shifts at work, obtaining a decent night’s sleep is often easier said than done. For farmers, weather factors and the extra demands during hectic seasons, like spring planting and fall harvest, can add to sleep deprivation and drowsiness.

To help you stay awake and avoid being drowsy behind the wheel, here are six important tips to keep in mind:

  1. Ensure you are getting plenty of sleep. 7 to 9 hours is best!
  2. If you have been awake for more than 24 hours – avoid getting behind the wheel. It is not safe to drive!
  3. If you have a long drive ahead and you start to feel sleepy, get some caffeine. If all else fails, find someplace safe to pull over and take a nap, or stay somewhere for the night.
  4. On long road trips or extensive hours behind the wheel, plan for regular breaks and stops. A good rule of thumb is stopping every 100 miles or every two hours.
  5. Plan your travel at times when you feel the most awake. If possible, have a passenger to keep you company or help with the drive.
  6. Speak up! If you see someone that appears sleep deprived getting behind the wheel, say something. Avoid endangering the life of the driver, as well as others on the road, in the same way you would if you suspected someone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For more information on drowsy driving, visit sleepfoundation.org/drowsy-driving. Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants learn the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and the consequences of driving or completing tasks while drowsy in relation to healthy lifestyles. Thanks to our friends at Drunk Busters of America, LLC., a sponsor of Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program, great hands-on resources, including goggles that simulate drowsy, distracted and impaired driving, are available for purchase by our coordinators. More than 400 Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® are being planned for 2019 in farming and rural communities all throughout North America. For more information or to locate a Safety Day near you, visit www.progresiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.

Photo: Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants from Minnesota learn about various distractions that can occur while driving during a roadway safety hands-on activity.

Listen Up! Be All Ears When It Comes to Hearing Health and Safety

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

Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. From a single shot fired from a shotgun experienced at close range to repeated exposure to loud machinery over an extended period of time, loud noises can present a serious health risk. No matter if damage occurs instantaneously, like with the shotgun, or over time in a work setting, the damage to your ears is often permanent and irreversible. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

October is recognized as National Protect Your Hearing Month by the National Safety Council. Nearly 20 to 30 million people are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work each year and approximately 10 million people in the United States have permanent hearing loss from noise or trauma. Unfortunately, the risk and harmful effects of noise on hearing are often underestimated because the damage takes place so gradually. Implementing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) reduces the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if the noise or sound level at the workplace exceeds 85 decibels (A-weighted), a person should wear a hearing protector. An A-weighted system is an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear.  The decibel values of sounds at low frequencies are reduced, compared with unweighted decibels, in which no correction is made for audio frequency.

IMG_2259In recent years, the Progressive Agriculture Foundation teamed up with the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the University of Michigan and Dangerous Decibels®, to develop a hearing safety chapter for use at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®. The primary goal with this curriculum is providing early intervention with youth and initiating the conversation on hearing safety from a young age. During a station at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, participants learn that hearing loss is preventable and distinguish between safe and dangerous noise levels through identifying common farm and rural sources of dangerous noise. Additionally, participants learn to demonstrate how to use distance to reduce noise levels and the use of hearing protectors through a variety of hands-on activities and demonstrations. Three key messages reinforced are:

  1. Protect your Ears by wearing earplugs or earmuffs
  2. Walk Away from loud noises
  3. Turn it Down by lowering the volume

Take a moment and reflect on the noises you encounter on a day-to-day basis. What are you doing to protect your ears and avoid hearing loss? Remember, don’t put your hearing health to the test, but rather invest in protection or walk away to give your ears much needed rest!

Hearing Safety is one of more than 30 topics that are covered annually at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®. With more than 400 events taking place each year, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® is recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. For more information or to locate a Safety Day near you, visit www.progresiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.

Photo: During Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®, like this one held in North Dakota, participants use sound meters to learn about the noise levels of common household items, from a kitchen blender to a vacuum cleaner.

Cultivating the Seeds of Safety

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

nfshw-2018-logo-largeWe have now entered that busy time of year filled with long hours and numerous tasks around the farm, known as harvest. Next to spring planting season, fall harvest can be one of the most dangerous times of the year due to the rush to accomplish many tasks in a short amount of time and the risk of cutting corners. In an effort to shed the light on the importance of safety on farms and ranches, National Farm Safety and Health Week, promotes a 75-year tradition of educating and celebrating safety’s relevance in the agricultural industry.

Cultivating the Seeds of Safety is the theme of this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week, taking place September 16-22, 2018. Emerging issues and important topics will be highlighted daily such as Rural Roadway Safety (Monday), Health/Suicide/Opioids (Tuesday), Children & Youth Health and Safety (Wednesday), Confined Spaces in Agriculture (Thursday) and Tractor Safety (Friday). Each Wednesday during National Farm Safety and Health Week has been devoted annually to safety and health topics affecting children, a cause very near and dear to the Progressive Agriculture Foundation. During this week alone, close to 30 Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® will be taking place. Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® are designed to be one-day, age-appropriate, hands-on, fun and safe events for children in rural communities. Since our program’s inception in 1995, more than 1.7 million children and adults have learned life-saving safety lessons helping us become recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America.

16-1067_HandToolSafety_576During these more hectic times of year, it is important to remember the curiosity of children. The sad reality is that every three days a child dies and every day 33 children are injured due to agricultural-related incidents in the United States according to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS). Growing up on or around the farm can be an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience; however, it is important to foster a child’s love and passion for agriculture in a safe manner. Remember, eyes are always watching; therefore, be sure to role model safe behavior during day-to-day practices while handling chemicals or working around large equipment and animals. Ensure that all tasks and chores assigned to youth are age-appropriate and align with the child’s development skill level. Remind children that the farm is a livelihood and not a play area; therefore, it should be treated with the same respect and care of any other workplace.

During National Farm Safety and Health Week, join us in reflecting, revisiting and rethinking ways to keep loved ones safe on the farm, ranch or at home. For more information or to locate a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® near you, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. Want to make a safe investment National Farm Safety and Health Week? Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.

Photo 1: 2018 National Farm Safety & Health Week Logo

Photo 2: Cultivating the Seeds of Safety starts with having the right tools in place and the most important tool is education. So let’s plant the seed early on!  These Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants from Ontario learn how to stay safe in an educational, hands-on and fun way.

Head Back to School Keeping the ABC’s of Safety in Mind – Always Be Careful!

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

With August upon us, the end of summer is drawing near. Soon, students all over the country will be heading back to school for the start of another new and exciting year of learning. Keep in mind some safety and health concerns for all of us to be aware of from vaccinations and buses to getting back in a routine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes the month of August as National Immunization Awareness Month. From the time a child is born until they go off to college, they’ll get vaccines to protect against a number of serious diseases. The need for vaccination does not end in childhood and are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel locations, medical conditions, and previous vaccination history. If you haven’t already, check your child’s immunization record and schedule a visit to their physician or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a potential last minute rush and will help ensure there are no surprises on the first day of school.  Most schools require children to be up-to-date on vaccinations before starting school in order to protect the health of all students. If you are unsure of your state’s school immunization requirements, check with your child’s doctor, school, child care provider, college health center, or local health department.

13-056_SchoolBusSafety_970Buses will become more prevalent on roadways carrying children to and from school, as well as after school sporting events and activities. This may require additional time in our morning or evening commutes to and from work. Drivers should follow the speed limit and slowdown in school zones and near bus stops. Remember, stay alert and look for kids who may be trying to get to or from the school bus. Slow down and stop if you’re driving near a school bus that is flashing yellow or red lights. This means the bus is either preparing to stop (yellow) or already stopped (red), and children are getting on or off. Kids need to practice safety around buses as well. Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Teach kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time. Teach kids to wait for the school bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and to not walk behind the bus. If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.

Finally, getting back in the school routine after summer break can often be a challenge. Assure your child is getting a good night sleep, get in their vitamin C, and starting each morning with a healthy breakfast, they will be better equipped to fight off the germs, prevent illness, and will be more alert during the school day. Also, make it a point to talk to your child about their day at school, whether in the car ride home or over dinner. This will help you identify any signs of bullying or other issues that may be going on at school and allow you to address the problem early on.

These topics are some of the lessons children learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®. Call 888- 257-3529 or visit progressiveag.org to locate one near your community by clicking on the Safety Day List located under the 2018 Safety Days tab. Want to make a safe investment? Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate.

Photo: With 81% of Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® serving as official school events, school buses are the primary mode of transportation to locations like farms, fairgrounds, arenas and parks. Therefore, teaching children how they can stay safe on and around the bus is an ideal topic, like this event in Iowa.

How Great Summer Can Be, When Safety is Practiced by Both You & Me!

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

From sunshine and water to vacations and cookouts, summertime sparks special, unique feelings for each of us. However, one thing I think we can all agree on is summer never seems to last long enough! With such a short season to create so many lasting memories, let’s not waste a single moment due to a preventable injury or illness.

  1. 18-772_SunSafety_11318Have Fun in the Sun – Safeguard your skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun by wearing clothing that will protect your skin. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and wrap-around style sunglasses that absorb 100% of UV sunlight. Limit sun exposure and seek shade, especially during 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are their strongest. Generously apply broad-spectrum sunscreen over exposed skin and re-apply every two hours, especially after sweating or swimming.
  2. Make a Big Splash – Whether you are at the beach or swimming in a pool, it is important to obey all instructions posted on signs or from lifeguards. Sadly, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among 1 to 4 year olds according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and many of these drowning deaths and water-related injuries are highest in the warm weather months. Never swim alone, always have a buddy!
  3. Time to Eat – Food safety is important to keep in mind during picnics and gatherings. Remember the 2, 2-4 Rule. Hot, perishable foods that sit out longer than 2 hours are considered unsafe to eat. The USDA recommends throwing away any such food, as it is in the danger zone, where bacteria can rapidly produce. 2-inches is the desired depth of storage containers, as it allows hot food to cool quickly and evenly. 4 days is the amount of time that refrigerated leftovers are safe to eat.
  4. End Summer with a Bang – From Independence Day celebrations through Labor Day, fireworks are prevalent. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. If you do have fireworks at your home, please following these safety tips:
  • Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution and make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  1. There’s an App for That – Our friends at the American Red Cross developed a First Aid app, which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The app is available for direct download from Apple or Google Play for Android app stores and is sponsored by Monsanto, a proud 3-star partner of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation. Get the app by texting “GETFIRST” to 90999.

These topics are some of the lessons children learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®. Want to host a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in your local community during 2019? Applications are being accepted through July 15, 2018. For more information on how to apply, go to progressiveag.org or call 888- 257-3529.

Photo: At Progressive Agriculture Safety Days®, like this one in Iowa, participants create bracelets with ultraviolet detecting beads to learn sun safety and the dangers of excessive sun exposure.

Progressive Agriculture Foundation Announces New CEO

Brian_KuhlThe Progressive Agriculture Foundation® is pleased to announce that Brian Kuhl will lead the organization into its next chapter as chief executive officer, effective July 1.

Filling the role of interim chief executive officer since January of this year, Kuhl has demonstrated his commitment to advancing the foundation’s mission of making farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities.

“Brian’s focus on reinvigorating the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program and providing our sponsors with new opportunities will be key to the future success of the program,” says Katie Schroeder, president, board of directors, Progressive Agriculture Foundation. “The foundation is grateful for all of Brian’s contributions, and we look forward to his leadership for many years to come.”

Kuhl has more than two decades of diverse business experience, including leading sourcing and safety education initiatives at CHS Inc. for 18 years. While at the company, he coordinated numerous Progressive Agriculture Safety Days and helped bring the program to six new communities in the Upper Midwest.

Brian Kuhl PAF Board PresidentIn addition, Kuhl served on the Progressive Agriculture Foundation board of directors for six years, including three years as board president. His time on the board, as well as his experience representing CHS Inc. as a sponsor, has provided Kuhl with a well-rounded perspective on the needs of the organization and its stakeholders.

Kuhl earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business and marketing communications from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls as well as an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He currently lives in Hudson, Wisconsin, with his wife, Kelly, and their two young children.

For more information about the Progressive Agriculture Foundation and Safety Day program, visit progressiveag.org.