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Webster County Farm Bureau donated four Turtle Tubes to local fire departments. The devices are designed to help rescue workers who become trapped inside grain silos. Pictured are, from left, Clay Fire Chief Jeremy Moore, Dixon Fire Chief Jeff Yates, Webster County Farm Bureau manager Greg Shouse, Mindi Jackson with Mitchell Brothers Seed, Sebree Fire Chief Don Edwards, Judge Executive Steve Henry, Ryan Hammack and Providence fireman Lee Jenkins.

For farmers who have to work in and around silos, the dangers these common farming structures create is very real, but Webster County Farm Bureau has made that just a little safer for those in the local agriculture business.

The grain handling industry is a high hazard industry where workers can be exposed to numerous serious and life threatening hazards, including fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment.

The most serious of these is the risk of suffocation.

As a worker walks on grain piled inside the silo, it becomes possible for the moving grain to act like quicksand. A person can easily and quickly become engulfed as the grain sucks them into the pile.

But its not the depth of the grain that is the real danger.

Even if a person only becomes submerged up to their chest, the weight of the grain on their body is the real threat. When they breath in, loose grain will fill the void where their body had been before. Each breath restricts the amount of space they have to breath until ultimately they can suffocate, even while only partially submerged.

Purdue University research shows that from 2006 to 2016, grain entrapments accounted for roughly 50% of all reported confined space incidents in the nation.

Earlier this month, Webster County Farm Bureau donated four Turtle Tubes to area fire departments, which can be used to safely rescue a worker from inside a silo.

The tubes are literally hard plastic tubes that can be inserted into a grain pile, around the trapped worker. The grain inside the tube can then be removed to a point that the trapped individual can then be extracted from the grain.

Fire Departments from Clay, Dixon, Providence and Sebree were on hand to take possession of their Turtle Tubes, which are ready to be used immediately if needed.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069