David McAlpine, M.D.
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During harvest season, it's important for people involved in agriculture to be well-prepared and safe. Long hours, powerful machinery and isolated jobs increase the risk of farm-related injuries and fatalities. However, remembering a few dependable safety practices and picking up a new tip or two can help you avoid a serious accident.
Consider these tips:
- Stay rested.
Being overly tired creates an impaired mental state comparable to intoxication. Most farmers wouldn't consider operating their equipment while drunk, but many still work 20-hour days during fall harvest. Don't sacrifice your well-being for the sake of efficiency.
- Take breaks.
It's important to reset and refocus from time to time. Take regular breaks to give your body and mind a chance to recuperate.
- Stay hydrated, and don't skip meals.
Dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be more dangerous than you may realize. Ensure you're drinking plenty of water and eating consistent, nutritious meals throughout the day.
- Work during daylight hours.
The more hours you put in after dark, the greater your risk of injury. Do the bulk of your work while the sun is still up.
- Follow safety recommendations.
Respect recommended use of safety mechanisms and shields on your equipment. Don't use shortcuts because they're convenient — you'll end up compromising your safety.
- Create a plan.
Share with your family or team where and how long you plan to work, and set ongoing check-in times so someone knows you're OK.
- Carry a first aid kit with a tourniquet.
Do you have a first aid kit with a tourniquet? If not, you really should. These tools save lives and limbs. Uncontrolled bleeding from arms and legs is the most preventable cause of death in injured patients. It's so important to control and stop the bleeding.
Did you know?
- Uncontrolled bleeding in the arms and legs can be managed with direct pressure and tourniquets.
- Uncontrolled bleeding in the torso junctional locations — groin, shoulder, armpit and neck — can be managed with direct pressure or wound packing.
- Uncontrolled bleeding in the chest and abdomen — internal bleeding — cannot be managed outside the hospital.
Keep a first aid kit with a tourniquet close by — in your truck, combine or both.
Harvest season is a memorable time filled with hard work and family tradition. But it also can be a dangerous time if you don't take the proper precautionary measures. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe, healthy and happy on the farm and in the field.