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Don’t be the dummy

Seeing is believing. The only thing better than following the journey of the dummy in these pictures would be viewing it in person.

Steve Wettschurack, who works with Bill Field in the Purdue University Extension safety program, uses a small grain tank cut in half with a walkway attached to show people firsthand how quickly someone can become trapped in flowing grain.

Key Points

In a bin, corn up to your waist means you’re trapped.

You could be covered in just 60 seconds.

There is never a good reason to enter a bin with the auger on.


With enough corn in the bin, the dummy would be submerged in about 60 seconds.

“The number of deaths in grain bins is up this year,” Wettschurack says. “We expected it since the 2009 corn crop was poor quality.” One reason Wettschurack does the demonstration is so those who watch it hopefully never see it in real life.

Stay on guard

“There’s no excuse good enough, no reason strong enough, to convince me that you have to be in there with the auger running,” Wettschurack says.

Follow the dummy’s plight in this demonstration.

Remember, on your farm, no one will be standing by watching, ready to pull you to safety.

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On all fours: Because the grain depth is fairly shallow in this bin, the dummy is pulled down on its side.

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End of the line: Only a lack of more grain in the tank is keeping the dummy from being fully submerged.

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Death watch: This picture resembles mourners gathered around an accident scene.

Always attempt a rescue

One thing Steve Wettschurack preaches is that rescuers must not assume it’s too late. The mindset should be on rescuing the person alive, he emphasizes.

At least three types of rescue boards are available for grain bin entrapments. During his demos, Wettschurack shows how to insert a plastic set into the grain.

Many rural fire departments are buying these devices. Make sure the device is easy to get into the bin, Wettschurack advises.


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Prepare for removal: Steve Wettschurack holds a plastic board that would be hooked to three other panels in a rescue.

Get help on the scene fast

A lifeline helicopter might be summoned if the victim of a grain bin entrapment is rescued alive. He or she may have medical issues that need prompt attention.

A three-person crew flies this helicopter out of a Clarian Arnett hospital in Lafayette, Ind. Fortunately, this landing was only a demonstration.


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A true lifeline: Many communities are served today by medical helicopters that can quickly transport a badly injured patient.

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Speaker’s podium: Steve Wettschurack makes his point about grain bin safety by demonstrating a grain entrapment.

Guard against auger clogs

When Don Villwock, Vincennes, Ind., built a large grain bin, he installed this cage that goes over an unloading outlet in the bin floor.

The theory is chunks will break up once they hit the guard. Many grain bin deaths are attributed to someone climbing in with a pole to free the clog with the auger running. Once the clog is free, the person ends up clogging the opening.


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Tip odds your way: This cage doesn’t guarantee an auger won’t clog, but it does help break and deflect chunks.

This article published in the November, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.