SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It is one of the most dangerous jobs of farming: entering a grain bin.
This week is Grain Bin Safety week — bringing awareness to the dangers associated with grain bins when a farmer has to go inside to knock corn loose.
Earlier this week, 27-year-old Christopher Bauman died in a grain bin accident in Elkton, South Dakota.
Getting inside a grain bin is always a risk, but one farmer says it’s especially dangerous this year.
Jed Olbertson, who farms near Beresford, says he knew in early fall that this year’s crop would be cursed.
“This year we’ve had a tremendous number of grain bin deaths nationwide starting in about October when the crops started coming in,” Olbertson said.
Due to widespread flooding last year, a lot of the corn is wet and needs to be dried in a bin and that’s where the danger lies.
Wet grain can create a sort of crust or stick to the wall and won’t auger out properly.
“We get frustrated and we get in there to try and do something about it and in four seconds a full grown man is stuck and under 30 seconds they’re covered,” Olbertson said.
His wife constantly worries about him.
“There needs to be a lot more awareness brought to this, there’s been it’s just happened too many times, too many deaths,” Barb Olbertson said.
One way Olbertson is bringing awareness is on social media. He posted this flier about grain bin safety on Facebook that’s getting lots of shares.
Alcester’s volunteer fire department trains on how to respond to such calls in case the unthinkable would happen.
“One of the things I’ve learned in the class, if you’re going in, if you know you’re going to go down; cover your face, because if you can at least cover your face. the corn won’t get in your mouth and you could maybe breathe a little longer to give us a little more time,” Fire Chief Pat Kast said.
The department has also purchased tubes like this one that he says are life saving.
“You pound them into the corn if someone is in there to hopefully get them out,” Kast said.
A life saving tool Olbertson never wants to have to use.
“I don’t want to have to rescue somebody, I want to prevent it,” Olbertson said.
Olbertson also says you should always have someone working with you if you have to go inside a grain bin, who can shut the auger off and call for help.
Bauman’s funeral is set for this Friday at the United Parish of Elkton. His visitation is tomorrow from five to seven. If you’d like to donate to the family, we’ve provided a link to a GoFundMe page that was set up for them.