Plan ahead, save lives with an emergency action plan for your farm

When an accident happens on the farm, every second counts. Quick response sometimes means the difference between life and death. And a lifesaving response often hinges on having a farm emergency action plan in place.

First responders are trained to act quickly. But decisive action that can save lives is much easier when an emergency action plan is in place at the farm. Such a plan helps first responders like firefighters and EMTs work even faster to save lives from things like entrapment in a grain bin or manure pit.

Plan ahead

A strong emergency action plan starts with a phone call or visit to your local fire department and other first responders. Have a conversation that helps those first responders create a pre-plan for if they are called to your farm. Ideally, a well-designed pre-plan includes vital information that can speed response when they arrive to your farm.

That includes:

  • The farm’s layout, including buildings, equipment storage, grain bins and other structures.
  • Areas where potentially hazardous materials are stored, like pesticides and fertilizer as well as powered equipment and machinery.
  • Locations where farm workers and others on the farm will be located in the event of an emergency.
  • Daytime and nighttime contact information for key farm stakeholders, including family members, workers and anyone else who frequents the farm regularly.
  • Locations for emergency utility shutoffs, including for water, natural gas and electricity.
  • Evacuation plans in the event of an emergency.
  • Any potential limitations for first responders.

Also be prepared to ask specific questions of first responders. Confirm they’re prepared to act in case of an emergency involving specific structures, equipment or machinery on your farm. Make sure you’re on the same page with your local first responders to ensure they have the training and equipment to rescue workers in grain bins, silos or other enclosed spaces. Also confirm they can operate potentially hazardous powered equipment like power take-off-driven (PTO) equipment.

What to include in your farm’s emergency action plan

Every farm is different, so every farm’s emergency action plan should also be different. Involve everyone who works or is generally present on your farm in creating your plan. Think about the potential hazards different members of your farm team may face and include them all in your plan. At minimum, your plan should include:

  • A map of emergency escape routes for different hazards and locations on your farm.
  • Each member of your farm team’s critical functions in the event of an emergency. Though many may evacuate, some may be required to stay back and ensure the safety of others.
  • A plan for accounting for everyone on the farm after emergency evacuation.
  • Reporting requirements for documenting specific emergencies like grain entrapment and fires.
  • Contact information for anyone who should be contacted in the event of an emergency.

Once you’ve built your farm’s emergency action plan, it’s a good idea to share it with your family, everyone who works on your farm and local first responders. Do this once or twice a year, especially if you make any updates. A good plan updated and revisited often will help ensure the quickest, most effective response to any emergencies on your farm.

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