Advanced Planning Can Help Growers, Producers Be Better Prepared for Emergencies


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Extensive winter storms, power outages, traumatic farm injuries, tornados and fires are just some of the kinds of conditions that can lead growers and producers to need assistance from emergency first responders,  a safety expert with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences said.

Advanced planning by farmers as to what steps they can take in the event of such emergencies or similar events can help to lessen the potential for extensive damage or injuries, said Kent McGuire, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural health and safety specialist. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.

With the increased potential hazards on farms, it’s a good idea for farmers and producers to have some kind of emergency management plan in place, he said. One way to be prepared, McGuire said, is to ask the local fire department to visit your farm operation to get familiar with the overall layout of the farm and to better understand the potential problems that may arise when responding to an emergency.

“This will give them the opportunity to identify any potential hazards during an emergency response and provide feedback on emergency planning,” McGuire said. “Having an emergency plan for a farm put together in advance before the moment of an emergency will help you be more effective in how you respond and will also help keep the rest of the people on the farm out of harm’s way.”

A farm operation is like any small business, so having an emergency plan is a must.

“It’s no different than your local fire department visiting the local grain elevator or food production facility in advance to understand the layout and what emergency protocols are in place before a crisis situation,” he said. “It’s a great way to get first responders and the farm on the same page prior to an emergency.”

Other tips to plan for emergences include:

  • Identify access points to the farmstead and to specific barns, buildings and structures
  • Locate electrical disconnects, water or gas shut-offs, and fuel storage areas
  • Specify locations of livestock facilities and relocation areas should they need to be evacuated from buildings
  • Identify confined space areas such as grain bins, silos or manure pits and hazards associated with each one
  • Indicate areas where chemicals, pesticides, paints, compressed gas cylinders or flammables are stored
  • Locate access points to water sources such as ponds, rivers or streams, in the event of a large structure fire
  • Determine any specialty equipment needed to access remote locations on the farm
  • Consider how emergency response could be affected by seasonal changes

For more information on emergency management and other safety issues, contact McGuire at 614-292-0588 or email


Tracy Turner
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Kent McGuire