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Children learn the ins and outs of farm safety

August 06, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSON, Pa. - A lawnmower can do some serious damage to a chicken and a power take-off can take off an arm in the blink of an eye.

Those were two of the demonstrations witnessed by 163 children Tuesday during the Franklin County Farm Safety Day Camp.

"He put the chicken on the ground and pretended it was a hand," Loren Wenger of Chambersburg, Pa., said of the chicken and lawnmower demonstration. "It flew off into all these different pieces."

"That got a bit of a reaction," Kevin Dice said of the demonstration that, he was quick to add, did not use live chickens.

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Dice, who sells farm machinery, and cousin Roger Dice, a farmer, were nearby giving a course on the dangers of power take-offs, or PTOs, the drive shafts on tractors used to power other machinery.

"If it got hold of your pants or your shirt, you'd be lucky to just lose your pants or shirt," Kevin Dice said of the devices, which turn at 540 to 1,000 revolutions per minute. At the lower speed, a shaft with a circumference of 8 inches would turn 6 feet in a second.

Children from the classes had their wrists hooked up to a device that measured their reaction time against the speed of a PTO. Several were able to pull away in less then two-tenths of a second from the time they felt it pull at their arm.

Even that short span of time is enough for the machine to take off an arm, Roger Dice said.

Brothers John and Preston Tabor of Waynesboro, Pa., said one of their friends had an exceptionally slow reaction time.

"If that had been a real shaft, he would have been wrapped all the way around it," Preston said.

Sponsored by the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service, the camp at the Franklin County Fairgrounds also instructed the children on ATV, tire and animal safety and first aid. Firefighters used a miniature house on wheels to teach them about the many safety hazards found in the home.

The Life Lion medical evacuation helicopter stopped by and the St. Thomas Volunteer Fire Co. demonstrated how members are trained to save someone trapped under an overturned tractor.

A county farmer was killed about a year ago by an exploding tire on a piece of farm equipment, one reason the tire safety station was included in the camp, according to Bryan Fleagle of Byers Tire Service of Chambersburg.

St. Thomas Fire Chief Tom Bigler said he has seen two serious farming accidents in his 23 years of service. Bigler said a man was killed in one of the accidents, but the victim in the other was at the camp.

Jere Wingert, the agronomy and livestock agent for the extension service, lost a leg to a piece of farm machinery several years ago.

"Next to mining, it's the most dangerous profession," Wingert said of farming. "If we can prevent one accident or death, we've met our goal today."

"We live so close to it all the time that we don't realize how dangerous it is," said Titus Martin, president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau.

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