With harvest season approaching soon - Story County Farm Bureau wishes to be proactive and prevent anyone in our county from becoming a victim of a grain bin accident - please support the fundraiser of at least nine grain bin rescue tubes for the following fire departments: Cambridge, Collins, Colo, Gilbert, Huxley, Kelley, Maxwell, McCallsburg and Nevada. The other fire departments – Roland, Slater, Story City and Zearing - already have their grain bin rescue tubes, but need additional training and supplies.

Entering grain bins is dangerous, and farm safety experts say grain producers should develop a "zero entry" mentality. Stay out of the bin, but if you must enter, do not go alone. Grain entrapment is one of the least understood hazards in today’s family farm operations. There are simple, inexpensive safety techniques that can help avoid grain bin fatalities.

Grain bin entrapments are sad reminders that grain storage can be deadly. It takes only five seconds for a person to be caught in flowing grain, and less than 20 seconds to be sucked into the center of the grain, which acts much like quicksand. A child can be buried in far less time.

Grain’s weight and other properties make it difficult to get out of a bin without assistance. Grain resists the force a rescuer uses to remove the victim. It takes more than 325 pounds of force to raise a 165-pound mannequin covered in corn.

Farmers who have worked around grain bins all of their lives might think this won’t happen to them. But the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that at least 26 U.S. workers were killed in grain engulfments in 2010, the highest on record. Since then, OSHA has inspected numerous bins and is committed to changing the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mindset.

All augers and grain-moving equipment should be turned off before anyone enters a bin. Farmers and their employees should never "walk down" grain from the bin’s sides to make it flow, or walk on crusted or bridged grain, which can collapse under a person’s weight. If there is crusted or bridged grain, workers should use a tool to probe the surface from outside the bin.

Moist grain can form toxic gases and fumes. Bins should be checked for these gases before entering. Farm families should discuss safety measures with all members, and children should never be near a grain bin. Sadly, many grain bin accidents involve multiple fatalities because of failed rescue attempts.

Grain handlers, bin manufacturers, safety experts and others have formed a national Grain Entrapment Prevention Initiative, which emphasizes six points in bin safety:

1. Develop a "zero entry" mentality. Stay out of the bin.

2. If you must enter, do not go alone.

3. Provide hands-on training for the entrant and observer.

4. Follow an entry permit.

5. Shut down and lockout.

6. Use a secure body harness lifeline.

If there is an accident?

• Shut off all unloading equipment.

• Call 911.

• Stop anyone from entering the scene until trained emergency personnel arrive.

• If the bin has an aeration blower, turn it on to increase the airflow through the bin to help the entrapped person breathe.

• Assemble equipment such as front-end loaders, shovels, plywood for cofferdams and portable augers for assistance with a rescue.

• If you should become trapped in a grain bin or silo, stay near the outer wall and keep moving. If necessary, you can walk until the bin is empty or the flow stops.

For more information about the Grain Bin Rescue Tube fundraiser, please contact Story County Farm Bureau at 515-382-2451.