October is Fire Prevention Month. Preventing fires is the best safety plan of all, especially in rural America where isolation can increase the time it takes for help to arrive.
Below are some tips for fire safety and prevention from the National Fire Prevention Association and Monsanto's Off-The-Job Safety Team:
Test your smoke detector batteries at least once a month.
Design and practice a fire escape plan for your family that includes at least two routes out of each room. For farm families, this should apply to barns and sheds as well.
Keep matches, candles, space heaters and other dangerous materials away from children.
Make sure there is at least 3 feet of clear space around any heating equipment such as a wood-burning stove, fireplace or space heater.
If you have a chimney, make sure it is inspected yearly by a qualified professional for blockage and other dangers.
Carry a fire extinguisher in farm vehicles, tractors and combines.
Another step you can take to help keep your community safe from fire is to support the dedicated volunteers of your local fire department. For farmers, America's Farmers Grow Communities offers a chance to direct a $2,500 donation to a nonprofit organization in the community.
This past year, nearly 20% of the winning farmers nationwide directed their donations to local fire departments. Illinois fire departments received $30,000 in donations, area farmers selected these 12 fire departments:
Highland-Pierron Fire Protection District – Bond County
Marshall Fire Department – Clark County
Browns Fire Department – Edwards County
Sheldon District Fire Department – Iroquois County
Yale Fire Department – Jasper County
New Douglas Fire Department – Madison County
Lacon - Sparland Fire Protection District – Marshall County
Bellflower Fire Protection District – McLean County
Pittsfield Fire Department – Pike County
Coulterville Fire Protection District – Randolph County
RSP&E Fire Protection District – Warren County
Win-Bur-Sew Fire Protection District – Winnebago County
Now through Nov. 30, farmers can apply online at www.growcommunities.com or call 1-877-267-3332 to apply by phone.
Farmers, age 21 and over, who are actively engaged in farming a minimum of 250 acres of corn, soybeans or 40 acres of open field vegetables, or at least 10 acres of tomatoes, peppers and/or cucumbers grown in protected culture are eligible.One winner will be selected at random from each of the 1,245 eligible counties, and the Monsanto Fund will announce winning farmers and recipient nonprofits in January 2012. Farmers who signed up for the program in 2010 may sign up again as long as they still meet eligibility requirements.