FREEBORN COUNTY, Minn. (FOX 47) - Since 1962, there have been almost 200 grain bin accidents in the state and Minnesota is one of the top three states, alongside Iowa and Indiana. In the past year, eight people have died from grain bin accidents. However, more than just user error is to blame.
"I have a heavy heart thinking about that when you think about how that's affecting farm families, and young families especially," said local farmer Matt Alford.
It's something farmers have done all their lives, but recent weather conditions have made the task a little harder.
"The grain storage conditions haven't been the best over the past couple years so you're seeing buildup in bins," said Glenville fire chief Matt Webb.
Along with the weather, time of year that the crops are harvested plays a role as well.
"If it was a little wet or anything of that nature and it's just not flowing down into your auger at the bottom, it will bridge and stand up," Alford said. "If you enter that bin, it can collapse and then there's no turning back."
Unfortunately, sometimes farmers have no choice but to enter the bins.
"They have to get in there to do their job but with unsafe grain conditions, it's causing grain bin accidents across the United States," said Webb.
Yet there are proper safety measures farmers have to keep in mind.
"Never be alone. Have someone that can shut off the equipment if that were to happen," Webb said. "Know where they are at. There's harnesses and other safety equipment that can be used."
Farmers should also shut off all equipment and break up crushed grain from the outside of the bin with a long pole.
"If there's any question in your mind, just don't go in," said Alford. "If you see something that doesn't look right, just don't go in that bin."
Due to the number of accidents across the country, many fire departments are receiving grants for life saving gear.
"Equipment and training that fire departments should have because we're seeing that in the rural areas more often," said Webb.
As part of drawing attention to grain bin safety, Nationwide Insurance is helping fire departments through grants for that rescue equipment. If you would like to nominate your fire department to receive gear and training, visit the site here.