Editor’s Notebook: Please Don't Be One More Statistic

February 23, 2010 09:59 AM

When it comes to statistics, most of us are on point about how many billions of bushels of corn will be produced and what that might mean for our operation. Right now, while you're busy hauling grain, I'd like you to think about how this past fall's harvest could turn you into a statistic—if you're not careful.

Missouri farm wife Pam Dowdy, who lost her husband, David, in a grain bin accident in 2009, shares this haunting question for you to stop and ask yourself: Am I in too much of a hurry to deal with safety equipment, or does my family have to make time for a funeral?

No one ever has time to plan a funeral, but Pam had no choice after David entered a bin in such a hurry that he didn't use his safety gear. The harness and equipment that could have saved his life sat untouched in the back of his pickup at the bin site. Now, Pam and son Matt farm alone.

One of my Extension safety specialist friends, Charles Schwab at Iowa State University, predicts that Pam could easily not be the only one impacted by chilling grain bin death statistics this winter. That's because the conditions that exist now parallel those following the 1992 harvest. Grain went in the bin wetter than normal and crusting is more likely.

In the first three months after the 1992 harvest, Schwab documented 10 grain bin suffocations. The best way to ensure that history doesn't repeat itself is to wear your safety gear and make sure you never enter a grain bin alone.

Frustrated after an incredibly long harvest and feeling pressured to dodge bad weather and slick roads to deliver grain, it would be easy to cut corners. Instead, ask yourself Pam's question.

Charlene Finck, Editor,  cfinck@farmjournal.com

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