Ag Safety Day at Centennial Livestock Auction offers lessons about dangers on the farm, ways to avoid them |

Ag Safety Day at Centennial Livestock Auction offers lessons about dangers on the farm, ways to avoid them

Agriculture and its many offshoots can be hazardous endeavors.

Risks come during machinery operation, handling livestock and other animals, weather and more.

To help warn and advise farmers and ranchers, the first Ag Safety Day for Larimer County was held April 23 at Centennial Livestock Auction.

“I have seen several ag-related accidents over the years and realize that some kids don’t have opportunities to grow up on a farm around animals and equipment to learn,” said Gail Meisner, program organizer.

Shelbylynne Enke, 18, is a Poudre FFA member from Wellington. She and about 15 others from the FFA group attended the safety event to learn about all the scheduled topics. The group’s advisor, Ryan Dreitz, was one of the presenters and responded to Meisner’s call when she initially started reaching out to find help to organize the event. Dreitz, along with Miles Kaplanides of 4Rivers Equipment in Fort Collins, were among the first Meisner reached out to after she got the idea after attending a similar one in March 2015 at the National Farmers Union convention in Wichita, Kan.

The safety topics discussed included fire, gun, animal and motorized equipment.

Fire safety

Bryce Lesser of Poudre Fire Authority instructed the crowd about the proper use of extinguishers. He said many people point the device anywhere, rather than aiming at the base of the fire. Lesser said one must coat the fire source with the chemical retardant, sweeping back and forth.

When it comes to grass fires, Lesser said the best prevention is to have a 100-foot mowed perimeter around houses and outbuildings to lessen fire intensity and deter spread from grasses to structures. In field fires, wind shifts are the greatest factor, so he said property owners need to check for red flag warnings before burning.

Animal safety

The animal safety portion of the event included a range of helpful tips, ranging from dogs to large animals. The different leaders gave tips on how people should react in certain situations.

Kaitlyn Carson demonstrated how to respond when coming across an unknown canine. Carson used her dog to show responses. She said one shouldn’t run, but rather stand still with arms folded across your chest which avoiding eye contact. Once in this position, Carson told the audience to yell for help if the dog becomes aggressive.

Large animals can present bigger difficulties, so FFA member and 2016 Larimer County Fair & Rodeo Queen Laynie Parker talked about the proper way to approach a loose horse. Parker said to approach the horse from the side, where the animal can see you approach. Horses will instinctively kick or run out of fear, so it’s also important to not cross under a tied horse’s neck as they can’t see there.

The last bit of animal safety instruction came from Colorado State University student, Patrick Linnell, who presented on cow safety. Linnell showed in 4-H and FFA and said people must be calm around cows. Since cows also react out of fear, they will fight if they feel trapped. If fleeing out of the cow’s way isn’t possible, Linnell said the next-best thing will be to appear as large as you can and shout at the animal to set it on a path away from you.

Mechanical equipment

The spotlight switched from large livestock to mechanical horsepower, with Allen Matsuda, store manager of 4Rivers Equipment in Greeley emphasized the need to know the safety features for the equipment consumers purchase. Matsuda reminded people to shut down equipment before making adjustments, read the owners manual and not to get distracted when using heavy machinery.

With tractors, it’s important to make sure no one is in the path and to honk or yell just in case. Matsuda said, when traveling on roads, that people need to be patient with motorists and pull over is necessary.

Matsuda cautioned that an auger can easily pull someone in by hair or loose clothing.

With smaller equipment, it is still important to remember safety.

The store manager of 4 Rivers’ Fort Collins, Miles Kaplanides, said helmets and eye protection should always be worn when operating a chainsaw.

Gun safety

A representative from Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply provided the following tips for firearm safety:

1. When accepting a firearm from someone, make sure the safety is on before further handling.

2. Open the action to visually check for ammunition and follow-up by inserting a finger into the chamber.

3. At all times, know where the muzzle is pointed when you carry any firearm.

4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are absolutely ready to shoot.

5. Know your target and what lies beyond that target.

It’s important to secure firearms in a case when carried in vehicles. When not in use, keep pistols holstered. Every gun enthusiast, even if not a hunter, should take a hunter safety course. Information about these courses can be found online through the Division of Wildlife.

Electrical safety

Poudre Valley REA representatives Larry Binder, Eric McGhee and Lennie Jordan stood before a portable version of power lines.

A mannequin, with a grapefruit heart, wore work clothes and was the victim for the presentation.

When McGhee touched a specially-designed dual pole to the live power line and simultaneously to the mannequin, the grapefruit was instantly cooked.

Binder said electric shock survivors normally loose limbs. The reason? Electrical heat melts flesh and destroys bone and other tissues. If improperly operated or improperly hooked-up, farm generators can kill.❖

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