"Research shows that rescuing someone from grain is not easy," Funkenbusch says. "The force ranges from 325 pounds for an average 165-pound person buried in hip-deep grain, to more than 1,500 pounds to rescue the same person who's 3 feet under the grain surface!"
Running fans to aerate grain before entering will help improve ventilation, at small cost per kilowatt-hour. "Never walk on or down the grain to make it flow," she said. Grain may become crusted on top and might look stable, but the "bridge" might be formed over a large air pocket that will serve as a deadly tunnel in which a person can be sucked into and suffocated within seconds. It costs only seconds to think about safety. The cost for a few extra kilowatts is small; the savings are priceless.
Lastly, she suggests having a trained observer outside the bin. This person can act as a contact with the person inside the bin and can call for help if needed. The cost, depending on the hourly wage, probably is less than $10. Again, the savings are priceless.
"Confirm that all safety precautions are in place," she said. "Always avoid entering a grain storage bin if at all possible, but if you must, follow safe procedures. You can't afford not to," Funkenbusch said.
What if there is an accident? Funkenbusch recommends the following:
-Shut off all unloading equipment.
-Stop anyone from entering the scene until trained emergency personnel arrive.
-If the bin has an aeration blower, turn it on to increase the airflow through the bin to help the entrapped person breathe.
-Assemble equipment such as front-end loaders, shovels, plywood for cofferdams and portable augers for assistance with a rescue.
-If you should become trapped in a grain bin or silo, stay near the outer wall and keep moving. If necessary, you can walk until the bin is empty or the flow stops.