Would you know what to do if your vehicle or piece of equipment came in contact with a power line?
If your equipment or vehicle contacts a power line, stay inside the cab/vehicle. DO NOT EXIT. Call 911 and Sioux Valley Energy for help and warn anyone nearby not to approach your vehicle. Only exit the vehicle after you are told by the authorities that it is safe to do so.
Exiting a vehicle that has contacted energized power lines can cause electrocution. The downed power lines could be charging the equipment with electricity and, if you step out, you will become the electricity’s path to the ground and could be killed by electric shock.
If you must get out of your vehicle because of a fire, tuck your arms across your body and jump with your feet together as far as possible from the equipment so no part of your body touches the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
Move away from the vehicle with your feet together, either by hopping or shuffling, until you are 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.
DOWNED POWER LINES
Overhead power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity. If a line is down, always assume it is energized and dangerous, even if the power is out in your area. Touching or getting near a live power line injures and kills.
Never approach an accident scene where a line is down or damaged. If you run toward the accident to help, you too could become a victim by entering the energized area.
Power lines can come down or sag close to the ground for a few reasons: severe weather or damage due to a car accident, for instance. And a downed line isn’t always visible. After severe weather, lines can lurk underneath water or debris.
Stay clear of all types of utility lines. Even if you think lines might be designated for telephone or cable service, they may have contact with damaged and energized power lines nearby. Safe Electricity and Lyon-Lincoln Electric offer these additional safety reminders:
- Call 9-1-1 to report fallen or damaged power lines.
- Power lines do not have to be arcing or sparking or making a humming noise to be live.
- Do not attempt to move a downed line or anything it is touching with another object such as a stick or pole. Even materials that don’t normally conduct electricity can do so if they are slightly wet.
- Do not step in water or walk in debris near a downed power line.
- Stay at least 10 feet away from the downed power line.
- Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line.
- If a power line falls on your vehicle while driving, do not attempt to drive away or get out. Call for help and STAY INSIDE THE VEHICLE until utility crews say it is safe to get out. If there is a fire or you smell gasoline, hop out without touching the vehicle at the same time and DO NOT WALK, but hop away to safety.
- Line properties can change: Any power line that is dead could become energized at any moment due to power restoration or back feed from backup generators.
Always consider all lines, regardless of the type, energized at deadly voltages.
In 2017, farmers ranked eighth in the list of the most dangerous jobs (civilian jobs with highest fatality rates) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics/U.S. Dept. of Labor. Unfortunately, farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers rank right below other hazardous jobs such as logging, roofing, and steel work.
It is no wonder farmers make that list. As agriculturists are well-aware, many dangers are present in their long and arduous workdays.
Safe Electricity and Lyon-Lincoln Electric remind farmers that accidents related to power and electricity are also possible but in most cases they can be prevented. Especially during the busy harvest season, take the following steps to decrease the chances of an electrical-related incident:
- Always use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
- Use care when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
- Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines — at all times, in all directions.
- Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
- Always lower extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads.
- Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
- If a power line is sagging or low, call us right away.
- If your equipment does hit a power line, do not leave the cab. Immediately call 9-1-1, warn others to stay away, and wait for the utility crew to cut the power.
Although harvest season is a time filled with tight deadlines and heightened work stress, take the time to consider electrical safety. It could save your live or the lives of others.
For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.