Now is the time for farmers to reap the rewards of a long and often tiring growing season. When it comes to fall harvest, there is a lot to get done in a seemingly short amount of time, as shorter days and cooler weather can create a sense of urgency. These factors, along with today’s technology and large farm equipment, can lead to serious accidents.
Overhead electric lines near end rows and along roadways can also be a danger to operators of large, taller farm equipment. “In the spring we saw a lot of accidents involving large farm equipment coming in contact with power poles,” says Molly Hall, Energy Education Council, executive director. Manager of Operations, Mike Scheib, says “With cell phones and other distractions in the cabs of large farm equipment power lines can often go unnoticed, which is why I encourage farmers to know where electrical lines are before heading into the field.”
Safe Electricity urges farmers to keep equipment - and extensions - at least ten feet away from power lines in all directions, and recommends the following tips to keep farmers safe:
- Know where overhead power lines are before you head out to the field and have a plan to stay far from them.
- Use a spotter when raising any equipment such as augers, grain trucks, and even ladders, it can be difficult to tell how close you are to overhead power lines.
- Know what to do and have a plan if you come into contact with an overhead power line. Do not leave the vehicle until utility workers have cut off electricity and confirmed that it is safe to exit the vehicle. Know what to do in the rare event the equipment catches fire!
- Always lower portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level-under 14 feet- before moving or transporting them. Wind, uneven ground, shifting weight, or other conditions can make it difficult to control raised equipment.
- Never try to move a power line to clear a path. Power lines start to sag over time, bringing them closer to farmers and others who need to avoid them. Contact your utility to repair sagging power lines.
For more information on electrical farm safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.
- Accidentally contacting a power line can be dangerous and in some cases, even deadly. Tri-County Electric wants to help our members stay safe around power lines.
- Keep a safe distance
- Whether you are playing outdoors with your children or working on landscaping projects, keep a safe distance from power lines and other equipment your co-op uses to get electricity to your home.
- Stay away from power lines, meters, transformers and electrical boxes.
- Don’t climb trees near power lines.
- Never fly kits, remote control airplanes or balloons near power lines.
- If you get something stuck in a power line, call your Touchstone Energy co-op to get it.
- Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas.
- Never touch or go near a downed power line.
- Don’t touch anything that may be touching a downed wire, such as a car.
- Keep children and pets away.
- If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This is the safest place to stay. Warn people not to touch the car or the line.
- The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving a car that is in contact with a downed power line is if the vehicle catches on fire. Open the door. Do not step out of the car. You may receive a shock. Instead, jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with both feet on the ground.
- As in all power line related emergencies, call for help immediately by dialing 911
- Do not try to help someone else from the car while you are standing on the ground.
Preventing Electrocutions Associated with Portable Generators Plugged Into Household Circuits
- When power lines are down, residents can restore energy to their homes or other structures by using another power source such as a portable generator. If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
- If it is necessary to use a portable generator, manufacturer recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable generator, a qualified electrician should be immediately contacted to assist in installation and start-up activities. The generator should always be positioned outside the structure.
- When using gasoline- and diesel-powered portable generators to supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the "off" position prior to starting the generator. This will prevent power lines from being inadvertently energized by backfeed electrical energy from the generators, and help protect utility line workers or other repair workers or people in neighboring buildings from possible electrocution. If the generator is plugged into a household circuit without turning the main breaker to the “off” position or removing the main fuse, the electrical current could reverse, go back through the circuit to the outside power grid, and energize power lines or electrical systems in other buildings to at or near their original voltage without the knowledge of utility or other workers.
- Generator use is also a major cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Generators should only be used in well ventilated areas.