Wednesday, April 23, 2014
   
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Looking up for power lines could save a life

Farm workers are accidentally electrocuted nationally each year when their farm equipment makes contact with overhead power lines, but these tragic accidents are preventable—just by looking up and around for overhead power lines.

Nebraska Public Power District is encouraging farmers in the midst of planting season to be wary of overhead power lines.

“We have had two situations already this spring where farm equipment has come into contact with overhead power lines,” said Tom Kent, chief operating officer for NPPD. “Fortunately no injuries, or worse, have occurred. But, the two situations have resulted in approximately 1,000 customers being without power for a short period of time.”

NPPD urges farmers to review farm electrical safety during this time period.

“Make sure everyone who works on the farm knows the location of power lines and keeps farm equipment at least 10 feet away from them,” said Kent. “That minimum 10 foot distance is also a 360-degree rule—below, to the side and above lines.”

Some farms require transporting tractors and equipment to fields several miles away. Before transit, avoid raising the arms of planters, cultivators or truck beds near power lines. Also, many tractors are now equipped with radios and communications systems and have antennas extending from the cab to fifteen feet above the ground that could make contact with power lines.

Other equipment safety considerations include:

Always lower portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level before moving or transporting; use care when raising them.

When moving large equipment or high loads near a power line, always use a spotter, or someone to help make certain that contact is not made with a line.

Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path.

If a guy wire or a utility pole is damaged, contact the local public power district to make the repair.

If a piece of farm equipment or vehicle comes into contact with a power line, the operator should always remain in the cab, call for help, and keep others away until the electric utility arrives to safely handle the situation.

“If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path and electrocution could be the result,” Kent explained. “Even if a power line has landed on the ground, there is still the potential for the area nearby to be energized. Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire.”

In that case, the proper action is to jump—not step—with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Do not allow any part of the body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Continue to shuffle or hop to safety, keeping both feet together as you leave the area.

Once safely away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment. Electrocutions can occur when the operator dismounts and, realizing nothing has happened, tries to get back on the equipment.

“We want the planting season to be a productive and safe for everyone,” Kent said, “It’s important for those farming to look up and around to see where the power lines are. Call your local public power district in the event of equipment getting tangled in a power line, and practice electrical safety each and every day.”

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