WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has declared Feb. 16-22 as Grain Bin Safety Week in an effort to bring awareness and education to the hazards and safe practices of grain bin incidents.

Perdue recently spoke with the Governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, to talk about the importance of grain bin safety on the farm. Governor Noem grew up on a farm in Hamlin County, South Dakota, U.S., and has a personal connection to farm safety. She has been an advocate for increased grain bin safety efforts for years.

“We hope grain operators, farmers and community leaders will join us in expanding knowledge of safe practices not just during National Grain Bin Safety Week, but year-round,” Perdue said. “Tragedies like the one Governor Noem’s family experienced happen too frequently and call for greater action, which is why I have signed a proclamation naming Feb. 16-22 Grain Bin Safety Week.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2018, there were 30 documented grain entrapment cases with half of those entrapped resulting in a fatality. It only takes seconds to be completely engulfed in flowing grain or overcome by oxygen-deficient atmospheres, the USDA proclamation noted.

“I’m grateful for Secretary Perdue’s leadership in highlighting this important issue,” Noem said. “My life changed forever when we lost my dad in a grain bin accident, and while farmers are often in a hurry to get things done, nothing is worth losing a life. This Grain Bin Safety Week, I want to encourage producers to evaluate safety procedures on their farms and ranches. Slow down and be safe — your family will thank you for it.”

According to the proclamation, deaths from grain bin entrapments began to decline due to increased education and training but in 2014, 38 documented entrapments nationally resulted in 17 deaths.