How Close is too Close?

By: Heidi Wagner, Progressive Agriculture Safety Day Coordinator of Woolwich Community Health Centre in St. Jacobs, Ontario

This fall, we all heard the story in the news about the three sisters that were killed on their family farm during harvest season. They were playing in the grain wagon filled with canola seeds and were pulled under the surface once the unloading chute was opened at the bottom. Two of the sisters were pronounced dead at the scene while the third sister later died at the hospital.

A few weeks earlier there was a similar incident where a young boy fell into the grain wagon while trying to retrieve his hat. His grandfather tried to get him out and fell in himself. There were two lives lost that day as well.

There has been some controversy in the agricultural community about how close children should be while farm work is being done. Parents want to introduce their youngsters to the joys and satisfaction of crop and animal production and teach them the value of “a good day’s work”. These are all admiral qualities that children growing up on the farm have. They understand that it takes hard work and determination to make a living at farming.

However, are farm families being too lax with their children’s safety? Large equipment and unpredictable animals pose many hazards for young people still unable to recognize dangers and inexperienced enough to react to avoid injury. Would a factory worker be allowed to bring his child to work in an industrial plant? There are many rules and laws that would prohibit this from happening. There are no rules in place to protect farm children from the getting hurt in the workplace where they live every day!

It is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children about dangers on their farm, where they should play and what areas are off limits to them and their friends and what to do in case something does go wrong. Children need to be taught at a young age that when their parents are “working” they need to stay back out of harm’s way. Grain wagons, tractors and animal pens are not suitable play areas for unsupervised children.

Unfortunately, there will probably be more fatalities in the farming community. Many of them will be young children that were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is every parent’s responsibility to try to keep their children safe, to grow up to be healthy adults. Some of these children may even become involved with agriculture as well. We hope that each generation will be more safety conscience than the last, since equipment gets bigger and more powerful and acreages get larger.

It is better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent! Wishing farmers a safe 2016 as you grow food to feed a hungry population!

When Temperatures Fall, Don’t Forget Your Four-legged Friends

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

The winter season is upon us. In the upcoming weeks, we will likely be 14-425 Animal Safetyseeing a drop in temperatures along with several ice and snow storms throughout the country. During severe weather conditions, keeping our family safe is always a top priority; however, we should remember the health and safety of our pets and farm animals. Just like their owners, animals are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for both frostbite and hypothermia. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads and hooves can quickly freeze and the animal can suffer permanent damage.

Although it is easier to bring pets, such as dogs and cats, in the home during severe weather conditions; keeping farm animals warm and safe may require more planning and preparation on your part. Lack of planning can lead to losses of livestock and affect animal production according to The Center for Food Security & Public Health. Here are a five tips to help secure your farm for a winter storm:
1. Stay informed about upcoming weather conditions through the National Weather Service (http://www.weather.gov/) and know the difference between terminology, such as winter storm warning, winter storm watch, and blizzard warning. This will allow you to better prepare for the type of storm you will be encountering.
2. Make sure pets, horses and livestock have access to a barn or shelter where they can escape the severe wind and cold.
3. Develop an emergency plan for power outages and a lack of water or feed resources. Have an emergency supply of forage & grain, identify emergency resources for water, and consider having a generator on standby for emergency power.
4. Stockpile emergency equipment and supplies including sandbags, shovels, road salt or ice melt. Keep antifreeze out of the reach of animals and know the signs of antifreeze poisoning. Additionally, keep antifreeze and other poisons out of the reach of children.
5. Winterize building that house livestock. Install storm shutters, weather strips, and insulate doors and windows. Assure roof structures are free of leaks and can hold heavy weight due to large accumulations of snow and ice.

Preparing to protect animals during severe winter weather conditions should not happen when a storm is approaching, but plans should be in place well in advance. If you live in an area that experiences sub-zero temperatures, it is essential that you take extra care to keep your pets and livestock safe and healthy during this time of year.

These animal safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. To date, more than 1.4 million children & adults have been impacted by a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in their local community. Learn more about the program at http://www.progressiveag.org

Photo: Vital animal safety lessons are taught to participants at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Iowa.

Keep Warm & Secure this Winter with these 10 Heating Safety Tips

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

As the temperatures fall, the use for space heaters and other forms of home heating will be on the rise. Although they keep families warm and toasty during the blistering cold winter months, space heaters are quickly becoming a firefighter’s worst nightmare. The National Fire Prevention Association states that heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths with space heaters accounting for more than half of all winter house fires during the months of December, January, and February.

According to Nationwide Insurance, from 2007 to 2011 approximately 81% of home heating fire deaths involved space heaters with close to 500 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries are reported each year. One third of all home heating fires are caused by portable or stationary space heaters. What is most disturbing is that many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if safety precautions were put in place by the homeowners.

Here are 10 ways you can stay safe using your home heating devices this winter season:

  1. Check to be sure the heater is clean and in good working condition. You should thoroughly inspect the cord and plug of electrical heaters for any damage, as well as check for certification from a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  2. Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or heating element and be sure the heater is the correct size for the area you want to heat.
  3. Do not place heaters in high traffic areas. Place on a level, hard and nonflammable floor surface and avoid carpets, rugs, furniture or countertops.
  4. Heaters should be placed at least three feet from combustible liquids, as well as flammable items including draperies, blankets and sofas.
  5. Show everyone in your home how to use the space heater properly.
  6. Do not place heaters under desks in the workplace or in other enclosed areas.
  7. Never leave the heater operating while unattended or while you are sleeping.
  8. Never power an electric space heater with an extension cord or a power strip. Do not place electric space heater cords under rugs or carpeting.
  9. Keep children and pets away from electric space heaters, as accidental contact could result in serious shock or burns.
  10. Invest in fire safety-related items including smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Be sure to check the batteries in smoke detectors regularly and store fire extinguishers were they can easily be accessed. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends that fire extinguishers should be tested every five to twelve years, depending on the type.

Last year, fire safety was the number one topic taught at 64% of all Progressive Agriculture Safety Days. These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® within their local community. Learn more about the program at www.progressiveag.org

Photo: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Illinois, participants learn the proper way to use a fire extinguisher while taking part in a hands-on fire safety activity.

Give the Gift of Safety This Holiday Season

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

While shopping for that special child in your life this holiday season, don’t overlook one important detail: SAFETY! Many times when we purchase gifts for kids, we’re hoping to for that “wow” factor. This year, gift giving can still have that same excitement, but can come with the addition of a safety message.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 256,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2013. Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for a toy:

  • Make sure the item is age-appropriate, and examine the toy for small, loose parts that could be swallowed by young children.
  • Check the toy for a non-toxic, durable finish and be sure it contains no unhealthy chemicals (phthalates, lead, etc.).
  • Carefully look for points, edges, and breakable parts that could be sharp and injure a child.
  • Be cautious with items that contain a button battery. If young children locate these and swallow them, they can suffer chemical burns in as little as two hours.

Go Play Outside!

You can avoid electronics and consider scooters, bicycles, skateboards, roller skates/roller blades, and all-terrain vehicle (ATVs) for older youth—these are often favorite gifts and reinforce a healthy, active lifestyle. In addition to assuring the gift is both sturdy and stable, follow up with proper safety equipment, like knee pads, elbow pads and helmets. Helmets should fit correctly and the child must wear them each and every time. Trampolines often make popular gifts, too, but make sure to complete your purchase with a safety net.

Practical Gifts Never Fail

When giving a gift to a family, consider practicality. Sometimes, families neglect to purchase items such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers due to the expense or failure to realize their importance. For new parents, there are great gifts out there to help baby-proof the home.

Contributing to the Cause

The holidays are well-known as a time for charitable giving, and there are many worthy organizations that do great things for kids with funding from generous contributors. Donating to the Progressive Agriculture Foundation helps fund our Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program. These events teach children about potential hazards around the home, ranch or farm and encourage them to adopt new safety practices. In 2015, more than 100,000 children and adults participated in a Progressive Agriculture Foundation sponsored Safety Day. It only takes $12 to help a child attend one of our events. For more information about the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program, visit www.progressiveag.org.

Photo: From All-terrain vehicles to bicycles, finding a helmet that fits correctly should be a top priority! At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Pennsylvania, participants are fitted for helmets they will take home with them, thanks to the support of local sponsors. Keep the gift of safety in mind this holiday season when selecting the perfect present for your loved ones.

4 Tips To Help Keep Safety In Mind During Harvest Season

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

Cutting corners and rushing to accomplish many tasks in a short amount of time during harvest season tends to cause more incidents and damage than a more patient approach. Nationwide®, a sponsor of the Progressive Agriculture safety Day® program, offers some great tips to help keep farmers safe during harvest.

Keeping in mind these 4 practices can lead to both a healthy and happy harvest:

  1. Be Organized – Maintain equipment and have all owner and operator manuals on-hand. Have an electric check of facility including wiring and electrical boxes. Provide safety proper training for employees & family. Before each task, do a safety walk-through making sure any potential hazards are taken care of and procedures are in place in case an incident occurs such as first aid kits and fire extinguishers on-hand, as well as warning signs on display.
  2. Focus on Efficiency – Be sure grain-receiving equipment, bin aeration, and the grain dryers are clean and in good working order.
  3. Know your Crop – Keep in mind both quantity and quality, stay in touch with local grain elevators for grain-marketing opportunities, and be smart when drying your corn & entering a grain bins. Properly care for combines and be aware of other farm equipment around you. Know your field and alert others of any potential hazards, such as erosion or washouts.
  4. Use Caution with Farm Vehicles on Public Roads – Display the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem on all off-road vehicles, use proper vehicle lighting & flashers when on public roads, and inspect hitches. Be sure to understand and comply with the laws for your state or province regarding headlights, taillights, and reflectors.

For additional harvest safety tips from Nationwide®, visit http://www.nationwide.com/pre-harvest-safety.jsp

These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® within their local community. Want to make a difference in your community? Apply to host a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, volunteer at a Safety Day, or donate to the program by visiting www.progressiveag.org

Be sure to LIKE us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/progressiveagriculture and FOLLOW US on Twitter @PAFSafetyDays for weekly safety tips.

Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle!

Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle!

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

National Farm Safety & Health Week is an annual promotion of the National Safety Council. The 2015 theme, “Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle,” will be celebrated September 20-26. This year marks the 72nd consecutive year this week has been celebrated and commemorates the hard work, diligence and sacrifice of our nation’s farmers and ranchers. During the week, a different topic area will be highlighted each day:

  • Monday will focus on Rural Roadway Safety
  • Tuesday will focus on Confined Spaces
  • Wednesday is Children’s Day
  • Thursday will focus on Health
  • Friday will focus on Tractor Safety

The statistics are sobering. Each year, more than 100 children are fatally injured on farms throughout the United States. Farm parents play a special role in protecting agriculture’s future. Here are 5 things you can do to keep your children safe:

  1. Keep young children away from farm hazards. Make the play area more fun than the farmstead.
  2. Don’t allow extra riders on tractors, combines or ATVs.
  3. Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, sun protection, ear plugs and eye shields.
  4. Provide sufficient training when youth are old enough to work on farms. Remember to keep in mind the child’s age and ability when assigning chores and tasks.
  5. Always role model safe and healthy behavior. Remember, you are your child’s first teacher and they will follow your example.

These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® within their local community. Want to make a difference in your community? Applying to host a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, volunteer at a Safety Day, or donate to the program by visiting www.progressiveag.org

The Progressive Agriculture Foundation and the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program, along with several other safety organizations throughout the country, supports National Farm Safety & Health Week as a way to raise awareness and educate others on health and safety-related issues. We encourage each to focus on safety and health around the farm, ranch or home not just for this special week, but 365 days a year!

For a variety of additional resources, including educational webinars, visit The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety website at http://www.necasag.org/ Also, be sure to follow Progressive Agriculture Safety Days on Facebook at www.facebook.com/progressiveagriculture and Twitter @PAFSafetyDays for weekly safety tips.

When Riding ATVs – ALWAYS THINK VIGILANCE

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

There is no question why ATV safety has been one of the most popular lessons taught at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days. Unfortunately, day-after-day the news is filled with ATV incidents resulting in either severe injury or death. In rural areas, ATVs are extremely popular whether used for leisure riding or for work on farms. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on average 144 children die each year due to an ATV-related incident. In 2012, more than 100,000 ATV-related injuries were reported from emergency departments and 25% of those injuries were from children under the age of 16.

We all know that ATV stands for all-terrain vehicle; however, a better reminder to keep safe while riding is to consider ATV as Always Think Vigilance. In several ATV incidents, the rider was likely very confident and thought, “nothing will happen to me” or “I am only going on a short ride, no need for a helmet.” For younger riders, who are often thrill seekers, they can feel invincible. We also see many children operating ATVs that are too big for them or riding as a passenger. Passengers impair the driver’s ability to shift weight in order to steer and control the ATV.

Paying attention, being alert and taking all safety precautions are a must when operating an ATV! Here are a few tips to stay safe while riding ATVs:

  1. Before operating an ATV, carefully read the owner’s manual and understand the safety features including lights, front & rear brakes and the engine stop switch.
  2. Take a certified ATV training course.
  3. Wear protective equipment including:
  • Properly fitted helmet that meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards.
  • Eye protection including goggles or a face shield to protect the eyes without obstructing the fields of vision.
  • Appropriate clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, over-the-ankle low heel boots, and gloves with a good grip. Shin guards and chest/shoulder protectors are good to use if riding over rough terrain.
  1. Never ride alone and always let others know where you will be riding.
  2. Understand the size and age-appropriateness of ATVs. Use under 70cc for riders 6 and older, 70cc to 90cc for riders 12 years and older, and over 90cc for riders 16 years and older.
  3. Never ride on paved roads and use extreme caution if you have to cross one.
  4. Do not ride double. ATVs are designed for one operator so that the operator can be “Rider Active.” Shifting weight from the front of the seat to the rear or left to right while turning.

Last year, ATV safety was a topic taught at 58% of all Progressive Agriculture Safety Days. Our ATV curriculum was recently updated thanks to funding from the Iowa Farm Bureau. These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® within their local community. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org

In Photo Above: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Texas, participants take part in a demonstration on ATV Safety.