Plant seeds of safety: tell your farmer to mind the power poles

Days begin at 4:30 a.m. and end after a sullen and nostalgic gaze at our sleeping children. He knows not what day it is, mondaytuesdaysaturday, they all run together.

My husband, likely like someone in your family, is in the business of agriculture. And you, like me, probably fret about your kin, working with big machines and dangerous chemicals while zombified. Eight hours of rest a week just doesn’t cut it.

So while I’m running ads on radio stations and articles in magazines and newspapers, I’m counting on you to help me nag remind our loved ones to “Look UP and Live.” Power line safety is a huge, and monumentally dangerous issue. In our service areas alone, farmers and farm hands hit three poles yesterday, totaling nine so far May.

I don’t think I need to tell you that accidents involving overhead wires can result in serious injuries and even death.

“We would rather get a call before something tragic happens,” said General Manager Jay Jacobson. “Our foremost concern is for the person on the tractor. Tangling with 7,200 volts of electricity is unpredictable and dangerous.”

As farm equipment gets bigger, so do the challenges of maneuvering the equipment safely around power lines. In each year for three years, an average of 80 accidents involving farm equipment and overhead power lines were reported to Dakota Valley Electric and Northern Plains Electric. Safety organizations say 62 deaths are reported each year. That’s way too many.

“If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path and electrocution is the result,” Jacobson said. “Even if a power line has landed on the ground, there is still the potential for the area nearby to be energized. It’s almost always best to stay in the cab and call for help. Unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire, wait for help to arrive.”

In the case of fire, jump – not step – with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Do not allow any part of your 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 you get away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment. Many electrocutions occur when the operator dismounts and, realizing nothing has happened, tries to get back on the equipment.

Plant seeds of safety this year.

* Consider any overhead line dangerous. Keep objects at least 10 feet away from power lines.

* Inspect working areas for possible interference with overhead power lines.

* Don’t attempt to raise or move electric lines.

* Call 811 before digging where power lines are buried.

* Report potential power line hazards.

For more information, call Northern Plains Electric at 1-800-882-2500 or Dakota Valley Electric at 1-800-342-4671.

So yes, yes. Tell them to get the field sprayed and crop in. But remind them: come home to us too.