By BARBARA ADDISON, LEHISA DE FORNOZA and DAVID COLTRAIN

Finney County Extension agents

The cooler temperatures and a little rain were a welcome relief from late summer hot and dry conditions. Fall is now here and that means a very busy time for farmers with fall harvest and wheat planting ahead. It is also a time to be careful and safe.

National Farm Safety and Health Week was recognized last week, and safety should always be a point of emphasis for those that work in agriculture. Nationally, agriculture workers' death rate places the industry first among all occupations at 21.2 fatal injuries for every 100,000 full-time workers.

Agricultural injuries can have financial impacts on agricultural producers, families, farms or ranches, and even local communities. Farmers and their families can ill afford the pain and inconvenience of workplace injuries and death. Farmers typically lose four days for every injury they suffer. Yet the daily duties of farming continue.

The majority of serious farm incidents involve machinery and equipment, but many hazards can be found in all areas of farm operations. Many of these incidents can be prevented through an inspection and correction of the hazard.

The overwhelming majority of injuries occur among workers aged 45 and older. Like everyone else, older farmers must accommodate the effects of aging. Because farming is so dangerous, the risk of having an accident increases with age.

Normal aging processes such as quick onset fatigue, reduced vision, slower reaction time, hearing loss and arthritis can contribute to increased risk on the farm.

Here are some tips for older farmers:

* Have your vision checked by a doctor regularly.

* Remember that vision is most difficult at dawn and dusk. Avoid driving tractors at those times. Also remember that during the aging process, eyes are more sensitive to glare.

* Get plenty of rest, especially during busy planting and harvest periods. Frequent breaks help protect against fatigue and stress.

* Use extreme caution when operating equipment. Be familiar with potential side effects of medications and how they will affect your reaction time, including over-the-counter as well as prescription medications.

* Make sure a family member or fellow worker knows where you will be working.

* Recognize and accept your limitations. Don't push your mind and body beyond safe and healthy limits.

It is important to get all the fall harvesting and planting completed. But it is more important to stay safe.

What is NSF?

When you go to buy products, appliances, equipment or other utensils, how do you ensure that the product passed the safety quality control before going to market? Have you seen or even paid attention to the lyrics NSF in a blue circle? Do you know the meaning of the symbol?

NSF International organization, founded in 1944, has a mission to protect and improve global human health. Manufacturers, regulators and consumers look to this company to develop public health standards and certifications that help protect food, water, consumer products and the environment. As an independent, accredited organization, they test, audit and certify products and systems, as well as provide education and risk management.

Germ study results

Home kitchen appliances and other equipment are analyzed by NSF International to verify manufacturer cleaning instructions and other items for ease of cleaning and best safety. A piece of equipment carrying the NSF mark is a sign of a safer, easy-to-clean product.

NSF International recently completed the 2013 International Germ Study on 14 common kitchen items to look for E. coli, Salmonella, yeast and mold, and Listeria.

The top six items harboring bacteria included: Refrigerator vegetable drawer, refrigerator meat drawer, blender gasket, can opener, rubber spatula and storage containers with rubber seals.

The top six items perceived by volunteers as the "germiest" included: Microwave keypad, can opener, refrigerator meat drawer, refrigerator vegetable drawer, flatware storage tray and knife.

For more information on this topic and others, call Léhisa de Fornoza, Finney County Extension agent, family and consumer sciences, at 272-3670.

4-H projects

As 4-H begins a new year in Finney County, youth have the opportunity to grow through adding new projects to their 4-H résumé. Choosing a new project and seeing it through to completion may be a difficult task, but with the proper support from parents, and volunteers, youth can complete their chosen projects and learn many valuable life lessons.

It is very easy to start a task, but oftentimes finishing it is a completely different story. Project completion is important because it gives youth an opportunity to start a challenging task and then experience the satisfaction of finishing it.

When selecting a project to participate in, it is best when parents and 4-H leaders work closely with youth to assess their abilities, resources and interests to find a project that is compatible with those factors. When the youth and the project are compatible, the chance of project completion is greatly increased because the basic elements of project support are present.

Parents have a large influence on whether youth complete their projects. Every youth has the potential to be successful in any project they choose if they have the proper support from caring adults who are active in building youth's knowledge and skill within a project.

The 4-H challenge

Life's little question: How many pieces of sports equipment can be made from the hide of one beef animal? Bite into beef and join the club!

The Beef Project is an excellent way to learn about an important Finney County and western Kansas industry. Learn all aspects of this industry by caring for a calf or building your own herd. The Beef Project includes beef bucket calf, market beef and breeding beef.

Youth can have fun in the Beef Project learning how to determine the type of animal they are looking for, how to feed it, diseases it may have, management techniques and many other important skills.

This project is filled with many hands-on activities including how to make a rope halter, preparing your beef animal for the fair and giving vaccinations, to name a few. Youth also will have the opportunity to explore the many careers and opportunities the beef industry has to offer.

Beef it up! Besides producing meat from beef, appreciate and learn about recognizing by-products from beef. Join the club and learn more.

For more information about enrolling in 4-H and choosing a project, contact the Kansas State Research Extension Finney County office. Every question is of value to you and us. Call Barbara Addison, 4-H agent, at 272-3670, email baddison@ksu.edu, or visit www.finney.ksu.edu or 501 S. Ninth St., for information to help you make a better decision.