Monday, Sept. 23 was the first official day of fall, and to say I am excited is an understatement. It isn’t for the pumpkin flavored everything like social media portrays. I prefer apple instead, but for me fall means hoodies and cool weather, mums and fall decor, football and of course, fall harvest.
As I sit here writing this article enjoying the cool night breeze through my open window, I can’t help but smile and feel a little relief as I hear the trucks and tractors roar back and forth on the road every few minutes. Some farmers are starting to harvest, and after the spring we have had, that makes my soul happy.
While others are anticipating harvest, it’s important for those in farming communities to be prepared and safe. Farmers depend on our highways while they grow our food and fiber, especially during the busy farming season like spring planting and summer/fall harvest. Long hours, powerful machinery and isolated jobs all increase the risk of injuries, which can be fatal.
In the push to get your crops harvested, it’s often a challenge for you to slow down and we all know that drivers on the roads are often rushed and distracted, and those two situations are dangerous.
Here are a few few tips I found from a nurse in the Mayo Clinic Health System on staying safe this harvest season:
1. To keep yourself and your employees safe, stay rested. I know it’s easier said than done, but remember you are more than your farm. Your life, your employees’ lives, are all more important than anything else. Period.
2. Stay hydrated and eat. Low blood sugar and dehydration are dangerous. Drink plenty of water and eat consistent meals throughout the day.
3. Work during daylight hours when possible. The more hours you put in after dark, the greater risk of accidents and injury.
4. Carry a first-aid kit with a tourniquet. This could save your life or your limbs.
5. Communicate with your family and / or coworkers. Always make sure someone knows where you will be and check in regularly.
6. Take breaks, even if it’s to walk around the equipment. Use that as an opportunity to check your lights, reflectors, your slow moving vehicle sign, or even to make sure that your equipment is in good working order and that all shields are still in place.
I know you are sighing and shaking your head about right now, and saying “Does this lady know anything about farming?” I do. I promise. But while my job is to understand farming and what you are facing, my job also is to sometimes remind you of the things that you don’t want to hear. I’m kinda like your momma, telling you to wear your seat belt and to drive the speed limit — and looking back, you know your momma was right.
Family and neighbors, be respectful on the roads and watch out for our farmers. It’s been an incredibly tough year for them.
Above all else…. Be patient. Be kind. Enjoy the view from behind. Those farmers have families waiting on them at home, too.
Submitted by Mandy Orahood, an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties. She can be reached by email.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.