PEOSTA, Iowa (KWWL) - With growing season right around the corner, advocates are urging farmers to be cautious while working with grain bins.
Today, Nationwide Insurance partnered with the North East Iowa Community College to educate farmers on grain bin safety. A study from Purdue University showed Iowa had the most grain bin accidents than any other state; with seven fatalities.
Dan Neenan, Director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, said we could expect to see more accidents involving grain bins this year. Citing heavy rain during the fall as a factor.
"Last year's harvest was really late and it was put away with high moisture content," said Neenan. "So it will mold, it will freeze and it will clump. Then as it flows down it blocks the sump and it keeps things from getting out. So that's why you get a farmer who goes in there in the first place. And that's where the trouble can start."
Neenan said tariffs could also attribute to more accidents.
"Because of everything going on with tariffs, there are a lot of soybeans sitting in a bin that hasn't been sold and haven't been transported," said Neenan.
As part of their presentation, a live demonstration has shown to showcase rescue efforts. Marji Guyler-Alaniz, Founder of FarmHER, volunteered to be "sunk" and rescued.
"It's a weird feeling because you can't pull your legs back out and you're just sinking," said Guyler-Alaniz. "And I knew they said just breathe and try to stay calm so I did and just try to fight through that rush of adrenaline of 'What do I do here?'"
If someone were to fall into a bin, it would only take about 15 seconds for their legs to become submerged. By 30 seconds, their entire bodies could become covered.
Pressure and lack of traction from the grain can make it nearly impossible to escape from. Julie Kenney, Deputy Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture, said that is why training sessions are so important.
"Oftentimes with farming, it's long hours and long days, especially during a busy season," said Kenney. "So weeks like this are good so we can pause and take time to make sure we're working safely"
Advocates urged farmers to let friends and family know where and when they will be working in the field and when they are expected to return. They also said farmers should always have a spotter around them to call 911 in case something goes wrong.
This year, Nationwide and Corteva are teaming up to donate 65 rescue bins to local fire departments across the country. Last year, 55 bins were donated to fire stations in 23 states. Grain Bin Safety Week runs from February 16-22.