National Farm Safety and Health Week - Guest Post by Eric Vanasdale* During National Volunteer Week, perhaps you donned a hardhat and headed to a Habitat for Humanity build. During National Fishing and Boating Week, you might’ve visited your favorite fishing hole. However, this week is National Farm Safety and Health Week. With a theme of “Safety Counts – Your Community Depends on It,” you might be wondering, “so, what should I do?” This observance isn’t a celebratory one, especially in Illinois, where 39 farmers died last year. That’s almost a two-fold increase. It’s also a 10-year high. Fortunately, as this farm safety week theme implies, your community can reverse this trend. A strong network of first responders Accidents happen on the farm. It takes a community to ensure farmers and their families stay safe. Rural communities are often served by volunteer fire departments and emergency medical technicians. Unfortunately, many of these departments lack funding to purchase specialty equipment, including the tools required to rescue a farmer from a grain bin. They also may not be able to afford training for specialty risks. However, you can help. • Donate funds to your local fire department, • volunteer at fundraisers or • let firefighters train on your facilities. Don’t worry. They’re not going to burn your house down during practice! Firefighters do more than combat flames. They respond to vehicle accidents, grain bin incidents, drownings and other emergencies. Stopping threats at the source Well-trained first responders help protect rural communities. Yet, they can’t singlehandedly prevent farm accidents. Everyone, especially farmers, must always take extra precautions. Now that harvest season has begun, roadway accidents pose a major threat to farmers’ safety. While on the road, remember to: • Avoid peak traffic hours and the busiest roads when moving farm equipment. • Use escort vehicles when moving equipment. Escort vehicles should closely follow farm equipment to afford the highest visibility and warning. • Pull over and allow traffic to pass if road and shoulder conditions are safe. For tips on roadway safety for rural motorists, check out one of my previous safety posts. National Farm Safety and Health Week isn’t an occasion to celebrate, but it’s a welcome reminder that we have to look out for each other. By supporting community first responders and traveling on rural roads with caution, we keep our families safe and communities strong! *Eric Vanasdale is a Sr. Loss Control Representative at COUNTRY Financial. He blogs at www.mynameiscountry.com.