Cora Carter – OSU Ag Safety and Health Graduate Assistant
This festive fall season comes with a variety of safety concerns for owners of corn mazes, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, and other fall agritourism sites. A safe season is the goal for every agritourism operation. There are several ways that safety can come first for your farm this fall.
Have fire safety and weather emergency plans in place. Make sure that all the workers are knowledgeable about these plans. Place clearly marked signs at the entrance and exit of mazes and buildings.
There should be established rules for visitors to follow. Employees should monitor the behavior of visitors and prevent any unsafe behaviors.
Fire is a serious hazard to corn mazes. Parking lots and roads should be at least 75 feet away from the maze. The paths should be clear and free of debris. There should be no smoking in or around the maze. Place fire extinguishers near the maze, and make sure that employees monitoring the maze have access to them and have been trained to use them.
It’s a good idea to contact your local fire department prior to the beginning of your season. Let them know the exact size and coordinates of your agritourism activity. If possible, ask the local emergency personnel to visit so you can show them the different areas of your farm. Give them a copy of your fire safety plan and a map of your operation with water sources and hazards well marked. This will assist them if any emergency occurs on your location. It is best to be overly prepared rather than have the fire department get lost because they don’t know where your field is. Oftentimes the agritourism activity is not at the farm address, or can be accessed via an alternative and faster route.
Pumpkin patches seem like simple locales of safe fall fun, and they can be, if safety precautions are taken by visitors and staff alike. Ensure that the paths in the patch are clear and free of debris. Have wagons and staff available to help lift and carry the pumpkins for guests.
Use caution when shooting pumpkin cannons! Keep people out of the path of flying pumpkin debris. Use safety glasses or goggles and hearing protection.
Inviting the public to your farm can be both risky and rewarding. Minimize the risks with simple precautions and have an enjoyable season!
For additional safety information your fall agritourism operation, visit the OSU Ag Safety and Health website, https://agsafety.osu.edu/news/ohio-state-university-offers-agritourism-safety-tips-consumers-farmers