No one ever thinks they will become one of the hearts on Bill Field's map. Unfortunately more than 800 hearts are on the map which dates back to 1980. It's a map with a red heart for every place in Indiana where someone has been killed in a farm accident.
The striking part is that no one is immune, no matter where you live. Some counties have had a higher percentage of accidents than others for various reasons, but there are red hearts all over the map. Field just updated the map to include 2011 numbers.
Reporting of farm accidents is not required in Indiana by state law. Field, the Purdue University farm safety specialist and the people who work for him collect the information form clipping services and word-of-mouth reports. They also verify the accidents resulting in fatalities with state agencies in Indianapolis.
While Field is still finalizing the report on 2011 farm fatalities, he explained what it will likely say while at the Farm Safety Forum at the Beck Ag Center last week. One fatality is one too many, but fortunately, the count is down from a year ago. It's currently at 16, pending verification. Two people died in only one county – Allen.
As usual, the greatest number of deaths are related to tractors and tractor rollovers, although the percentage is down somewhat this year, still more than one-third of all those killed. For the first time in a long time, no one under the age of 18 was reported killed in a farm accident in 2011. Field marks that as a good sign, and an important achievement. On the other end of the spectrum, a relatively high number of the fatalities involved people 60 years of age or older.
Be careful out there. That was good advice last week, and it's still god advice this week.