Farmers, avoid those power lines

Monday, September 15, 2008

As area farmers prepare to enter into the fall harvest season, it's vital for them to remember and practice important safety steps when dealing with large equipment and power lines.

According to information from Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, each year in the United States hundreds of farm workers are injured and many killed when their farming equipment makes contact with power lines.

Today's farming operations often involve large and complex machinery. Huge combines, raised dump beds, oversized wagons, grain augers, planters, spraying equipment, and metal irrigation pipes are all excellent conductors of electricity.

Such equipment contacting overhead power lines is the leading cause of electrocution in the Midwest, according to the ILEC.

Moving portable grain augers continues to pose one of the greatest threats to farmers. Things like wind, uneven ground, shifting weight or other conditions can create a fatal result.

The ILEC suggests when moving large equipment that farmers (or anyone doing so) use a spotter to make certain that contact with a power line is not a danger.

Also, areas near grain bins can pose a real danger if equipment is too large or is used improperly or carelessly.

The ILEC says if the equipment you are in comes in contact with a power line, you should make sure you:

*Stay in the cab and call for help.

*If there is imminent risk of fire, jump clear of the vehicle and land with both feet on the ground at the same time. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and ground at the same time.

If you question the height of power lines in your working areas, don't attempt to measure them yourself. Contact the ILEC to help determine the proper line height in each area of the farm.

In short, look up, look down, and be safe this harvest season!