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Stay Safe This Harvest Season

Stay Safe This Harvest Season

As fall harvest starts across Iowa, the risk of wildfires in crop fields increases. Recent rains across Iowa provided some relief from the on-going drought, but crop fields are still dry, cured and could spark wildfires.

This has been an extended drought year, particularly in northeast and southeast Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages farmers to get reacquainted with fire prevention practices to keep your farm ‘firewise.’ The following simple steps for a safer harvest can save time and money.

Properly prepare machinery to reduce the chance of a field fire from an overheated bearing (check the manufacturer’s recommendations). A spark from an improperly lubricated combine can instantaneously ignite dry plants and field debris.

Check that all fire extinguishers carried on the machinery are fully charged with loose powder inside. If the powder is not loose, remove the extinguisher from its bracket then thump the canister with a rubber hammer until the powder moves when shaken.

Make sure the size of the extinguisher is appropriate for the size of the machinery. You may need larger and/or additional extinguishers. Also make sure you have the correct extinguisher for the type of fire to be extinguished. There are two types of extinguishers, the powder extinguisher for electrical and petroleum-based fires and the water extinguisher for vegetative fires. You may need to carry both kinds of extinguishers.

Keep equipment clean. Check and remove combustible harvest debris from motors, exhausts, ledges and brackets several times a day. A portable gas-powered leaf blower is great for blowing debris from the various surfaces of the combine.

Service grain storage and drying equipment. Storage facilities are like your bank vault. Protect their contents by properly servicing all bearings, belts, motors and drags. Dryers frequently cause fires; have a qualified service technician perform the necessary maintenance before drying grain. Keep weeds mowed around the facilities to discourage a fire from spreading. All extinguishers should be handy, fully charged, and the proper size and type for the area.

Turn off interior lighting in overfilled bins. A grain fire will start if the grain surrounds the bulb. Turn off the light’s breaker to avoid accidentally turning the light on. This also applies to hay storage facilities.

Handle hay properly. Improper hay storage commonly causes or complicates farm fires. Preventative measures greatly reduce this risk.



Photo Credit: gettyImages-shaunl

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Categories: Iowa, Harvesting, Rural Lifestyle, Farm Safety

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