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Teaching youth safety on the farm

By Staff | Jul 10, 2009

The faces of these students got pretty serious when they saw how quickly the doll was submerged in the flowing grain. Terry Sponheim lead the station on flowing grain at a recent Progressive Agriculture Safety Day.

SIOUX CENTER – “Life on the farm can be very dangerous,” said Christina Boogerd, 9, of Hull. “Today I learned about things to keep you safe.” Boogerd was commenting during the June 18 ag safety day at the Sioux County Fairgrounds.

“AgriSafe is a program where we hope to keep kids in line with farm safety,” said Miranda Vander Ploeg, occupational health secretary for the Sioux Center Community Hospital, which has been co-sponsoring the event for about two decades. “They will learn how to react around machinery or handle things if they come upon an accident.”

100 youths from area communities were spending a day to learn about ag safety.

Those attending were divided into small groups, each guided by two FFA members from the Sioux Center Community School. Volunteers staffed the demonstration sights that were hands on demonstrations on the hazards of flowing grain, gun safety, PTO/Skidloader safety, ATV safety, sun safety, electrical, first aid and farm hazards.

Vivid examples were shown on the dangers of PTO, by Mike Schouten, Jack Soodsma and Justin Van Kooten. Schouten had explained that the “PTO would show no mercy. It is so powerful, in a blink of an eye, you are caught in it”

This model farm featuring 17 safety hazards impressed the students when they first saw it. Built by Micah Rensink, it has 17 farm safety hazards displayed.

Using a garbage bag filled with shredded paper. they demonstrated what happens to someone who gets caught in a PTO.

“I have a personal mission for being involved with the program,” said Soodsma. “Six years ago my son got caught in the PTO.” The shields were on, yet a loose sweatshirt managed to get pulled in. He survived, but not without injuries. Soodsma hopes a day of learning of farm safety will prevent this from happening to anyone else.

Van Kooten was sitting inside the skidloader cage, when Soodsma sat on the edge of the skidloader bucket. Excited students started yelling. “Get off!” “That is not a safe place to sit.” That is one of the safety facts learned, to never sit on the bucket or give rides.

Schouten also explained the importance of keeping the cage on skidloaders. “That is a No. 1 no-no. Wear the seat belt to prevent being ejected. When you hit a dip, the skidloader will nose dive, possibly catapulting you out.”

Never get out of a skidloader with the bucket in the air, it could fall on you. There would be no walking away, warned Schouten. Often it is slippery from the manure or snow. A fall could result in a head injury or serious cut from the sharp bucket edge. Always carry a load low.

Micah Rensink tells of possible things that could go wrong when working a combine head.

Schouten also cautioned the students about approaching machinery. “It is not always that easy for the operator to see you. The best way to tell dad dinner is ready, is to stop away from the machinery off to the side. Wave at him, make eye contact, point to your watch, rub your tummy. He will get the idea that dinner is ready.”

Micah Rensink had built a replica of a farmstead for the purpose of highlighting 17 different hazards. He first had the students look for the hazards then he explained what the dangers were.

When he finished Andrew DeBoer, of Boyden, summed up a part of it with “Do not park tractors by utility poles. Never ride on the back of pickups.”

Other safety suggestions were to use ladders, take keys of equipment when not in use especially when working in it. Doing that prevents the combine or tractor being operated by someone who may not be aware that you are working on it. Use a safety harness when on top of bins. Blind spots can occur when driving machinery.

“It takes three to 10 seconds for you to get submerged in flowing grain,” said Terry Sponheim. “If that happens to you, then cover your nose and mouth with your hands. Or if you are outside the unloading wagon or bin, shut off the down spout and call for help.”

He demonstrated how difficult it was to pull a person out by having the children pull on a rope with a board attached covered by corn in a tub. Many of those who tried were positive he had it nailed down.

“Every parent should send their kids to one of these farm safety camps,” advised Mike Schouten. “Even attend themselves.”

The event was co-sponsored by Sioux Center Community Hospital and Health Center, Sioux Center Chamber of Commerce ag committee, Bunge, Toyota, TSC, Agrium, The Farm, John Deere, State Farm, Case IH, Monsanto, Pioneer and Shell Lubricants.

Contact Renae Vander Schaaf by e-mail at renaefarmnews@gmail.com.

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