Clogged grain bins causing more deaths earlier this year

Last year's wet harvest means corn is clumping up inside grain bins. Farmers who venture into the bins to break it up can put themselves in a dangerous situation.

Posted: Feb 11, 2020 10:41 PM
Updated: Feb 12, 2020 6:16 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa – You tend to hear more about grain bin accidents in the spring and summer months, but deaths in grain bins are happening early this year.

Farmer Kevin Pope, who works a spread near Mason City is keenly aware that farmers can get trapped in a grain bin quickly.

"The force of flowing grain is unbelievably strong and there's no way as a person you can overcome that force and that's where a lot of people get into trouble is they get sucked down into that grain and then it's just a matter of minutes,” said Pope.

Farmers have been venturing into their grain bins this winter to break up clumps of corn sticking to the sides or jamming up equipment. Craig Backhaus with North Iowa Cooperative explains why this is happening.

"The corn was wetter this year and with the temperatures being colder, it took longer to dry the corn,” he said.

Farmers are aware of the dangers of entering grain bins. Pope has some suggested safety practices to prevent getting swallowed up by a silo full of grain.

"You don't ever get into a grain bin while you are trying to unload it. You want the unloading equipment turned off and you always want other people there with you and it’s just risky business,” said Pope.

At North Iowa Cooperative, Backhaus says there is one absolute rule nobody deviates from.

"When we have corn in the bin we don't enter into the bins. There could be some bridging if you enter from the top an air pocket underneath where the grain could collapse,” said Backhaus.

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