SCOTTS BLUFF COUNTY, Neb – Entering the Event Center at the Scott Bluff County Fairgrounds sections of chairs are placed throughout the room with third, fourth and fifth graders from Mitchell and Morrill sitting in them.
The room is a buzz as these school kids are participating in the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day where then will learn about the dangers of living on a farm.
Hosted jointly by the Scottsbluff/Gering Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee and Betaseed, Safety Day has taught children about on-farm dangers, including grain bin safety, motor vehicle roll-overs and more. This year, Safety Day featured 11 different educational stations, focused on teaching children to think about safety all their lives.
“We have a drug awareness safety they are educating the kids on different kinds of drugs that they should not be taking,” said John Dillman, Betaseed Regional Salesman. “We have the State Troopers with the roll-over safety, so the kids know they should be wearing a seat belt, keeping them safe.”
In addition to a day of fun, each student receives a new bicycle helmet, first aid kit, water bottle and sunglasses. The free gifts are donated by businesses in the area rich in the local agricultural community.
Teaching the kids safety is an important part of growing up in the area, knowing what some of the dangers of the environment around them are.
FAA students are also there to be with each group to help with the students, as well as getting an education from the different subjects for safety. Helping students with different exhibits, climbing the ladder on the side of the grain bin so they could see inside.
The students are taught precautions for entering a grain bin. Dangers include dust and mold, and how a grain “bridge” can form, giving the illusion of a safe surface when a void can exist just below.
Lex Larsen from Western Nebraska Community College explained to students how that “bridge” could collapse under the weight of a person, trapping them in the grain and possibly smothering them. They should never enter a bin without a harness with rope on, Larsen said, enabling them to be pulled out if they become trapped.
He also said that most grain bin accidents result in the death of two people – the person who was trapped initially and their rescuer.
Ralph Paez with Roosevelt/Tristate Electric taught the children about the electricity safety, showing them how farm equipment can get caught in overhead wires or a vehicle being caught in the electrical lines. First instincts are to go help, but coming in contact with the wires could cause them to become a victim also, Paez said.
With so much of the area depending on irrigation water for production, water safety in canals and ditches is also important, instructor Dennis Strauch said. An irrigation canal may look like a fun place to go for a swim, but could quickly become a place of danger and death, Strauch said. That there is a difference between a swimming pool and the ditches.
Larger ditches have concrete liners, used to protect the sides of the ditches, he said. Protruding rebar can cause serious injury. Using a model of a canal, the students could see how the current of the water could cause a whirlpool and suck them under the water, drowning them.
Progressive Agriculture Safety Day is held once a year giving students a chance to see how to keep from getting hurt and to see what may seem fun can be dangerous and cost them their lives.