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Cold weather safety tips for the farm

Avoiding falls

The current cold snap looks set to continue until the weekend. In inclement conditions such as these, farmers should be extremely cautious as they go about their work. Ice and snow on the ground are a hazard, and the threat of slipping and falling on hard farmyard surfaces should be taken seriously. As a precautionary measure, it is a good idea to apply de-icing salt or grit to the yard in the evenings. This is particularly important for those of us with back problems or other mobility-related issues, but nobody can afford to have a serious fall.   

Vehicle Management 

Extra care is needed when using farm machinery in this weather. When using tractors and ATVs, ensure that tyres have a good grip. Where possible, use 4-wheel-drive as this will provide better traction on snow and packed ice. 
Keep vehicles in a warm place overnight, to prevent the battery from freezing. It is best to avoid the need for jump-starting. Jump-starting a frozen battery carries the risk of explosion. 

Working in the fields 

Going into fields to feed livestock is more dangerous in wintry weather. It is important that you can see where you are going at all times, so try to feed animals in the morning or early afternoon. Do not wait until nightfall, when ground will be frozen and treacherous underfoot. Avoid crossing rivers, streams, ditches and steep slopes where possible.  
In the event of being immobilised by a fall, a means of communication is essential. Therefore, you should always take your phone with you into the fields and check that it is fully charged before going outdoors. 

Thermal clothing 

Do not undertake farm work without first putting on appropriate thermal and waterproof clothing. In a weather-related emergency, keeping dry and warm could be the difference between life and death. A lot of body heat is lost from the head, so wearing a good-quality thermal hat is another important precaution.