Farming is a dangerous occupation, not just in the number of deaths but also the high rate of injuries that occur on the job. Many injuries are the result of modern farm equipment that is more powerful and specialized to handle specific tasks. To deal with these dangers, farm workers must be prepared to handle medical emergencies.
Although farm-related injuries vary according to season and type of operation, the three most common causes are livestock, machinery, and slips or falls. More than half of all farm injuries (65 percent) in Iowa are caused by these hazards.
How you respond to farm-related injuries is critical. Certain conditions exist on a farm that can turn a minor injury into a life-threatening situation before professional medical treatment is available. Agricultural injuries often occur in remote locations and go undetected for long periods of time. Being prepared for medical emergencies and knowing the basics of first response can help minimize the extent of injuries.
Preparation includes having the right materials available. A farm emergency/first aid kit should contain everything needed to handle a medical crisis where you work. Keep in mind the following tips as you put together your farm emergency/first aid kit.
·Know what's in the kit and how to use it. Don't rely on gut instinct in a crisis situation. Get appropriate training and renew periodically. Take refresher courses. Play what if with family members. Set up scenarios and decide what you would do.
·You'll need more than one kit. Most farmers have several work environments that change as seasons and conditions change. Consider developing several kits specific to the hazards and potential injury. For example, a first aid kit for the dairy barn would contain different supplies than the kit you keep on your tractor in the spring.
·Be selective. A farm emergency kit should not be relied upon for day-to-day or minor injuries. Select items to help you handle a major trauma. You have limited space to store materials, so an emergency kit filled with small bandages for minor cuts would not help you after an entanglement. Small cuts should be taken care of, however, these conditions are not life-threatening and do not require first aid.
·Pack items for individual needs. Make sure your emergency kit contains personal medical information and supplies for those with special medical conditions. A sting to someone who's allergic to bee venom could be life-threatening, so appropriate items must be included. The name and telephone number of a family doctor for everyone who might be involved in a medical emergency also should be included.
·Always include emergency numbers. A card should tell you how to contact an ambulance, hospital, or fire department, and have written directions about how to get to the farmstead, field, or work area. Remember that 911 numbers may not be a standard service in some locations.
·Remember communication and heat. Flares and a flashlight will help you signal for help if you're caught after dark or in an isolated area. Don't forget to pack matches (water-proof). Flares also can generate heat until help arrives.
·Check kit every three months.