By Lih-An Yang
For the Courier 

VCCD News: Drought, Haying, Fire Safety


As Valley County falls under category D4--exceptional drought--on the U.S. Drought Monitor this month, USDA has authorized emergency haying on CRP lands beginning July 16. Valley County Conservation District would like to remind all area producers to be cautious of fire danger as hot, dry weather forecast continues into the near future.

Fire requires fuel, oxygen and ignition source to start. All three parts are ever present in the fields. With this summer’s prolonged high temperatures, constant wind and the lack of rain, fire potential will no doubt increase during haying and harvesting season. Please take extra precautions as you and the swather get ready to go to work.

Below is a checklist of some fire safety items to keep in mind:

● Think prevention. Inspect your equipment and make sure all oil and fluid levels are properly filled and leak-free. Keep the bearings in good condition—worn bearings create sparks.

● Clean caked-on grease and crop debris from the equipment on a regular basis with a power washer or compressed air.

● Carry at least one 10-pound ABC-type fire extinguisher in the tractor, preferably with a 20-pounder at the ground level. Be sure they are in proper working order. Silver fire extinguisher—refillable with water, dish soap and compressed air--is also recommended.

● Have bulk water tank available on site. 50-gallon tank on a 4-wheeler or 100-gallon in a pickup with a garden hose goes a long way, says Chris Knodel, Long Run Dept. Fire Chief.

● Avoid driving and parking vehicles on tall grass as much as possible.

● Check catalytic converter underneath the vehicle for any ignited plant material.

● In case of fire, call 911 as soon as possible. Then attack with fire extinguishers if it is safe to do so. Throwing some dirt with a shovel could also help. Try to fight from the “black,” the area already burned.

● Know how to give the fire department directions to your location.

● Personal safety comes first. A fire can double in size in under a minute--professional help should be called as soon as possible when it becomes necessary.

Let’s all do our part and minimize fire danger in Valley County!


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