28 Feb SERIOUSLY
“IT’S GOING TO BE A SEASON WITH LOTS OF
ACCIDENTS, AN I’LL RISK SAYING THAT WE’LL
BE LUCKY IF SOMETHING REALLY SERIOUS
I want to get you to put aside the feelings you have for my opinions that I expand on in this column. This is not an opinion piece. This is a plea to all of my farmer friends and others to take serious the tasks that you engage in on a regular basis.
When I was a teenager and working for my Grandpa and Uncle on the farm I learned a very serious lesson from a near tragedy. One that continues to happen to this day. In fact there are two major lessons that we need to learn because the loss of life has happened right up to last week.
We were filling upright silos. We still were in the dairy business and we had a really good crop of silage to put up. We had enough to fill our silos and more. So we rented a neighbors silo that was not being used.
We had put a few loads in this silo one day and came back the next morning to start again. My uncle started to climb up the tube to see how full it was getting and making sure that everything was filling the way it should. He started up and in a couple of minutes he literally fell out of the tube.
As he had started up the tube he started to get light headed and realized that he was getting overcome with silo gas. He started back down as fast as he could and ended up just falling on out. It was a good thing that he did. He may have been stiff and sore for a few days but he was alive. He had violated the one important rule when going up in a silo that had new silage put in it and had set overnight. You always fire up the blower and make sure that the silo gas is blown out before going up.
When we went back home and did the same thing on our home silos he had me climb the outside of the silo with him and look down in what we had done the day before. I could see the greenish yellow gas in the silo just above the silage. We went down and blew it out and it looked like the silo was on fire when the gas was purged from it. We got lucky and learned the lesson without losing anyone.
We had a similar fear of getting into a grain bin. We did not have any close calls because we did not get into the bins. We did not have the huge bins that most farmers have today.
As a member of the Fire Department and Rescue Squad I did not have to respond to either one of these situations. But my Captain did along with several stations when a worker at the huge elevator in the south end of the county had a worker go into a tube and was trying to knock down soybeans that were sticking to the walls. They came down taking him with it. He was recovered only by running the beans out the bottom of the tube and removing the bars so his body could be taken out.
This year alone we have had three members of a family die in a pit accident and at least eight people killed in grain bin accidents. We know the dangers yet people still end up getting injured and killed.
More rescue squads are getting the equipment for bin rescues and all departments should have breathing apparatus to enter low oxygen environments.
But it is up to you to not enter such situations or send anyone into these situations especially alone. Familiarity breeds contempt. We learned the hard way by close call and were lucky that there was no serious injury. Just because you may have gotten away with doing things that are risky before does not mean that your number cannot come up or worse the one that you sent to do the jobs number comes up.
PLEASE BE SAFE!