Accidents can happen at any time of year but in the winter, wet, windy, icy weather and short daylight hours can make the farm a treacherous place to live and work.
Sadly, there’s no hiding from all the jobs that need doing so take them and the weather on safely with the following ten tips:
Kitting yourself out in clothing that’s appropriate for the weather is the most important safety measure that you can take.
Dress in breathable cotton layers that you can add or remove as necessary. Keep out winter chills with waterproof and windproof trousers, jackets, hats and gloves, and add hi-vis outer layers, particularly in the afternoons when the light can fade rapidly.
Quality footwear is always a sound investment but during the winter it becomes an essential one.
Buckler boots are a safe bet and likely to last several winters. This year their durable, high-grip range includes a selection of pull-on or lace-up work or wellington boots and a choice of regular or steel toecaps. Choose the ones that suit your workload the best.
Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your farm so make time to eat well, get plenty of quality sleep and stay hydrated. Always carry bottled water with you, you will sweat just as much as you would on a summer’s day and will need fluids to stay mentally and physically alert.
With your health and your attire sorted you’re ready to tackle farm chores, but in order to get to and from them safely, you’ll need to grit and clear surfaces, paths and driveways.
Order sand, salt, grit or sawdust now, they’re all ideal for giving surfaces traction. Make sure any high-traffic routes in particular are checked, swept and treated daily.
Reliable farm vehicles are more important now than ever so get yours serviced and then maintain them by checking the water, fuel, oil and tyre pressure levels weekly throughout the winter.
Winter weather can cause all sorts of damage to buildings, enclosures and farm fencing so inspect your entire site before the winter really takes hold and deal with any maintenance tasks or repairs now.
Pay particular attention to any roofs, door and window surrounds, enclosures and fencing, because the collapse of any of these things during winter can be dangerous and costly.
Any of the farm tasks you regularly tackle are going to take longer to complete so plan your days in advance, allow more time for getting each job done and inform someone where you will be and what time you should return.
Things can and will go wrong so carry a small kit with some basic safety essentials in it any time you’re out and about. The minimum items it should include are:
Any time you head out, make sure you have a well-charged communications device with you. The National Farmers Union (NFU) report that at present, only 15% of farms enjoy reliable mobile phone reception so if you’re one of the majority who have lacklustre signalling, use an alternative.
You can check your signal strength and find out more about how to support the NFU campaign for improved mobile and internet connectivity in rural areas by visiting their online page.
Living and working in a rural area can make you vulnerable to heavy rain and snowfall, flooding and power cuts.
Back-up generators can help you keep essential services up and running but it’s worth stocking up on tinned goods, bottled water and gas-powered stoves and heaters in case you get stuck onsite, and taking an inventory of your buildings, contents and livestock for insurance purposes in the event of evacuating due to a fire or flood.
All your winter essentials, from farm clothing and fencing to generators and tools, are now available to order online from Chelford Farm Supplies.