Spring planting is upon us and Northern Electric Cooperative would like to remind local farmers to stay safe this season. Overhead and underground power lines can be easily overlooked, and deadly if ignored.
Last spring, Northern Electric responded to more than a dozen contacts with cooperative power lines and underground infrastructure during the planting season.
“Machinery contacting power lines was an issue last spring,” Northern Electric Operations Manager Mike Kelly said. “As larger farm equipment is manufactured it is more important than ever to look up and look around for overhead lines and underground equipment near fields, approaches, and roads.”
While you focus on putting those seeds in the ground, Northern Electric urges you to review these important safety tips.
Awareness doesn’t spread as fast as an electrical current, but a little goes a long way. Remember to look up and look out for power lines this planting season. Follow these four steps to stay safe.
Avoid distractions when operating farm equipment. While spring planting days can run long, failure to be aware of your surroundings can lead to power line contacts and other accidents.
Cold weather often delays spring planting in our region. If you get in the fields later than you had hoped, avoid the temptation to rush through your work. Slow down and stay safe.
Educate yourself on any new equipment you may have purchased recently. New equipment has higher antennas and attachments than ever before. What cleared power lines in previous years may not in your new machinery. Know what you’re working with.
Sometimes trees or brush can make power lines difficult to see. Don’t just glance up, really take a minute to search your surroundings when moving equipment.
Hitting a power line can be scary. In certain situations, there may be a lot of noise, which may spur your instinct to run—you’ve got seconds to understand what is happening and respond appropriately. Do you know what to do if you come in contact with a power line?
Unless there is a fire, you need to stay calm and stay in the vehicle. Touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time (i.e. stepping out of the equipment) can be deadly. Don’t risk becoming a conduit for the electricity to move from the vehicle to the ground through you. Stay put.
CALL FOR HELP
Call for help from the vehicle if possible. 911 is a good place to start, especially if you don’t know your local electric cooperative’s number. If you don’t have your phone, try radioing for help. If someone comes to assist you, they need to stay at least 40 feet away from the vehicle until professional help has arrived.
If there is a fire forcing you to leave, jump clear of the equipment. Jump with your feet together, as far away from the vehicle as possible. Be sure that no part of your body touches the equipment and the ground at the same time. Then, shuffle (tiny, quick steps) or hop with your feet together at least 40 feet away. Electricity spreads through the ground in ripples. Keeping your feet together prevents one foot from stepping into a higher voltage zone than the other foot, which could cause electrocution. Stay away from the equipment and keep others away until the authorities tell you it’s safe to return.
By: Ben Dunsmoor