Road, chemical and fire safety will be put at the forefront next week during the annual Spring Farm Safety Rally being held in St. Jacobs.
Hosted by the Waterloo Farm and Safety Association, this year’s theme is “Be an AgSafe Family,” and the evening’s presentations reflect the need-to-know knowledge to keep with high standards in the farming industry. The event also coincides with Canadian Agricultural Safety week, which runs Mar. 13-19.
Heidi Wagner, a rural community health worker at the Woolwich Community Health Centre, says the evening event is open to everyone, but is tailored for farm families, kids included.
“It is just one way that we can get some of these safety messages out to the farming families,” she said of Tuesday’s gathering. “It is for the entire Waterloo region, but it seems to be people mostly from this area that will attend. It is usually attended by families, which is a good thing because you have children that are on the farm, either working or playing, and they need to see some of those safety principles as well.”
Some of those principles include how to properly transport farming vehicles on public roads, the dangers of anhydrous ammonia and how to prevent barn fires like the ones that have been reported across the province.
“You have often got these really big combines and implements being pulled by tractors and there are certain rules that are law, and others that are best practice,” she said of the presentation planned by Staff Sgt. Michael Hinspberger from the Elmira police detachment, adding that there are more farm vehicles on the roadways than ever. “It is becoming that farms were more spread out. It used to be that the farm lands would be around the main building, but nowadays, farms are getting bigger. The farm could be down the road, and quite a distance down the road. So, you’ve got these implements on the road and we want to share what the rights of an operator are. How much is courtesy, and how much is safety and how much isn’t.”
Hinspberger will also be talking to farm families about the dangers of anhydrous ammonia – a chemical that is helpful to plants, but very harmful to humans.
“Once it is in the ground, it looks for moisture and adheres itself to the plant root, which is what you want, but if it is in the air, then it could be quite dangerous to people,” she said.
The evening will also include a presentation from the Woolwich Fire Department, sharing tips and tricks for preventing barn fires like the fatal fires seen across the province this winter.
“Lots of livestock have been affected, and farmers depend on their livestock for their livelihood. Is there something that you could do as a farmer that could cut down on the likelihood of having a barn fire? Whether it is as simple as cleaning out some cobwebs, so that is a timely type of talk,” she said.
Even though the topics up for discussion are geared towards adult farmers, Wagner says it is important for children to understand the dangers that can come along with farm life, especially with changing regulations and standards. To keep the kids entertained, there will be door prizes donated from local businesses, along with juice and cookies to snack on.
The Spring Farm Safety Rally starts at 7:30 p.m. on Mar. 8, and runs until 9 p.m. at the St. Jacobs community centre.
For more information on the event, contact Wagner at 519-664-3794, ext. 237.