Women in Farming: Put Safety First

Summer season is upon us, that means heat waves are here. Over the next few months farmers will be working longer hours -- starting their days before sunrise without resting until long after sunset. The pressure to keep going can be intense and can lead to accidents, injuries and even death especially when days reach record high temperatures.

Take extra caution and to keep a close watch your health.

According to COUNTRY Financial, the leading sources of ag-related deaths:

• 25% involve machinery

•  17% involve motor vehicles (including ATV's)

•  16% involve drowning

Although the number of accidents and deaths are disturbing, much can be done to curb them.

"Farmers are always anxious to get their work done. They work on tight deadlines, are often up against poor weather and numerous other setbacks -- but they need to remember to take care of themselves," said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative at COUNTRY Financial.

Easy to follow tips for farmers:

1. Maintain your equipment. Most farm accidents and deaths involve machinery. Make sure your equipment is maintained according to the manufacturers' recommendations.

2. Make sure you understand how to safely handle the chemicals you use. Keep chemicals in their original, marked containers. Make sure everyone working on your farm is trained in safely handling them and understands emergency procedures.

3. Avoid driving machinery on roads at dawn and dusk. Most accidents happen during these times of day as they are peak commuting times for drivers.

4. Tell family and helping hands where you will be working and when. Keep the lines of communication open. Also, have a cell phone or walkie-talkie  on you in case of emergencies or accidents.

5. Get plenty of rest and take frequent breaks. Drink plenty of fluids and have healthy snacks on hand to keep your energy levels up. Do not push yourself past healthy limits. Accidents are more likely to happen once fatigue sets in.

6. Familiarize yourself with how your prescriptions and over the counter medications affect you. Some medications and machinery do not mix. Consult your doctor if your medications impair your ability to safely operate your equipment.

"Farmers should make their safety a priority," Vanasdale said. "Accidents happen when we're tired, distracted, stressed and rushed. Farmers shouldn't overlook the quality of their health or put their safety second to the job at hand."

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