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Sittin' on a bale of hay - 7 ways to stay safe on hayrides

A sign for hayrides

There's perhaps nothing that more embodies fall than heading down to the local pumpkin patch. You can pick out the perfect gourd for carving, purchase apple cider and donuts, wander through a corn maze and hop on a hayride. Seriously, who doesn't enjoy riding through a farm or orchard while sitting on a bale of hay? I've enjoyed plenty of them. But I'm also a living testament to the dangers they present. Twenty-one years ago, I fell off a hayride and was almost completely run over. Fortunately, other riders saw me fall off and were able to get the driver to stop quickly.

I don't remember all that much from the event because I blacked out. I remember the fall itself and waking up with the wheel of the trailer pressed against my torso. While I spent three days in the hospital, I only had to deal with three broken ribs, a bruised lung, a bruised liver and plenty of road rash. All and all, I was pretty lucky.

Twenty-one years ago, I fell off a hayride and was almost completely run over. Fortunately, other riders saw me fall off and were able to get the driver to stop quickly.

And I was pretty dumb. I fell because I stood up on the ride. My injuries were 100% my fault. I was a bright kid, who often shied away from taking risks, but it was easy to get caught up in the fun and I forgot the rules. That's why it's important for adults to be extra observant and stress the importance of safety on hayrides.

Surprisingly, when searching for hayride safety tips online, I found few articles. The best resource I could find, from the Haunted House Association, is written for operators, but we can easily apply their recommendations as safety tips for riders.

  • Follow the posted rules. A reputable business operating a hayride should have posted rules, probably near the waiting area or cash register. Read them, and take some time to explain them to your children.
  • Listen to ticket takers, attendants and operators. These people not only know the rules of the hayride, but are also probably reciting them. They will correct anyone they see doing something wrong.
  • Do not stand on the ride. Learn from my mistake. Once the ride starts, don't stand, plain and simple. Hay can be slippery, and a moving wagon is not a stable surface to stand on.
  • Do not throw straw. Here's another admission: I stood because other riders started a hay fight. I wanted to participate. This is another unsafe behavior, don't do it.
  • Do not use cameras or other devices that will distract you. You may really want to take a quick photo of your family on the hayride to post on Facebook. Please don't. While the ride is moving, it's important to keep your focus on the ride.
  • Hold on. It's one simple way to help ensure you won't fall off the ride.
  • Keep arms and legs inside the wagon. You don't know the trail the wagon will travel. There might be some tight spaces. Keeping your arms and legs inside the wagon will help make sure nothing hits you.

It's a lot of common sense, but like a said earlier, it's easy to get caught up in the fun and forget the rules. And hayrides are a lot of fun—more so when everyone is safe.

Please take care and enjoy all the fall has to offer safely.

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