Dee Jepsen – State Agricultural Safety and Health Leader
Autumn is a season to be particularly alert for fires. During this season, we decorate our homes and businesses with dried fall foliage, light additional candles, burn yard leaves, and take in star gazing around bonfires.
For fall agritourism venues, fire safety is especially important. These businesses take precautions to keep their visitors safe. However, it is also important for the visitors to share the responsibility to protect themselves from potential fires, and obey the rules set by these venues.
Fire safety practices at agritourism venues include:
• Have parking lots at least 75 feet away from dried fields and corn mazes. Vehicles should not be permitted to park in fields that contain any dried plant debris or corn fodder.
• Do not allow smoking in or around corn or straw mazes. Signs should be prominently posted to alert visitors of the dangers. Visitors should obey these signs, and smoke only in designated areas, if available.
• Place fire extinguishers near the maze and inside buildings. Make sure employees have access to these extinguishers and have been trained to use them.
• Maintain farm machinery – especially those used for hayrides – and have them carry 5lb fire extinguishers.
• Have a first aid kit available for employees and visitors, and train workers for basic first aid and CPR.
• Have an emergency response plan to handle fire or weather-related emergencies. Communicate this plan with employees for rapid response and evacuation. The plan can contain locations of first aid kits and fire extinguishers. The plan will also identify the emergency contacts.
• Prior to the opening season, Agritourism operations are encouraged to invite their local fire department to the location. This serves several purposes: to review their fire safety plan; to inspect their fire extinguishers or refer them to a fire safety service for inspections; and to review access of entrance and exits in the event an emergency vehicle is called to the scene.
The important message is for everyone to be aware of fire hazards. Having prevention strategies in place will reduce the potential for fires.
Have a safe and enjoyable time at the local pumpkin patch and outdoor fall venue.