During fall harvest season reminding farmers and their hired hands to be aware of overhead power lines and underground utilities, whether working near grain bins, in the farm yard or out in the field all are very important.
It is essential to use extra care when operating large farm equipment near electrical lines and poles, and underground utility cables and pipelines. If you are using equipment like elevated truck beds, raised conveyors or other large folding farm equipment, it is critical to remember to take the time to survey the area, even if you are familiar with it, to be sure that it is free of potential hazards and of course children or grandchildren.
In addition to surveying the area for hazards, here are some other safety tips to avoid accidents and injury:
- Be aware of the clearance your equipment needs when truck beds are elevated or harvester arms are fully extended or raised.
- Keep all equipment at least 20 feet away from overhead power lines, guy wires and utility poles.
- Report to your electrical company any activity that might have damaged or undermined the stability of a utility pole, including damaged guy wires or severe erosion.
- If your farm equipment has snagged an overhead power line, remain inside the equipment. If possible, try to drive the equipment away from the hazard. If you cannot drive it away, stay where you are and wait for rescue. Call or signal for someone to call 911 and your local electric company. Warn others to stay away.
- If you must get off the equipment because of fire or other danger, remember that your body should NEVER contact the ground and the metal equipment at the same time. Jump clear, then hop with feet together or shuffle away. Voltage is highest near the equipment and decreases with distance. Hopping with feet together or shuffling prevents your body from becoming a conductor of electricity from a high to low voltage area.
- Tires are NOT insulators. Although rubber is not a good conductor of electricity, metal, which also is found in tires, is. If a power line is in contact with your vehicle, electricity will travel through the metal skin and tires into the ground. If you touch both the vehicle and the ground at the same time, electricity will take the path of least resistance and travel through your body to the ground.
- Never touch a downed power line or anything it is in contact with even if there are no sparks. A live wire may whip or sweep through a wide area. A live wire also may lie still on the ground.
- So remember if your farm equipment gets entangled in a power line or you damage a utility pole or guy wire, call your local electric company immediately.
- Also always exercise caution when beginning any excavation projects such as tiling, terracing or fence post digging to avoid damaging underground utility cables and pipes.
Have a safe and prosperous harvest season and HAPPY THANKSGIVING.