Harvest season means more risk to power lines

As the annual fall harvest season gets underway, Alliant Energy is reminding farmers of the importance of staying safe when operating farm equipment near power lines.

Contact incidents with electric power lines significantly increase this time of year, according to Alliant. The fall harvest season is riskier for several reasons. More equipment is deployed in the field; the equipment tends to be larger, such as combines, wagons and tractors; and farmers often work in the dark when it’s difficult to see poles and wires.

In addition to the risk of an injury or fatality, contact with power lines can interrupt electric service. That can halt work and slow electricity-dependent farm activities such as grain drying.

To help keep farmers safe and the power on for all, Alliant Energy offers the following safety steps:

• Maintain a safe distance. Always stay at least 10 feet from all power lines and power poles. Look up, down and all around before moving or raising your equipment. Conduct a thorough visual check of your surroundings.

• Know your equipment’s height. Do not drive under power lines if any part of your equipment is too tall to clear them. Consider the additional height of antennas and GPS receivers. If you purchased new equipment, don’t assume it has the same clearance as your old equipment.

• Do not attempt to raise power lines. Never try to elevate power lines to allow passage of tall equipment.

• Be aware of your turning radius. Make sure your tractor and anything you tow does not swing into poles or overhead lines when you turn. Pay special attention at the ends of rows and field entrances. If you hit a power pole, it could break, dropping a live line. Assume it’s energized and call 800-255-4268 immediately.

• Remain vigilant during grain handling and storage. Be cautious when you set up and move equipment, particularly when you use booms, augers and grain bins. These operations can bring you close to overheard lines. Keep grain augurs in their lowest position and lower truck bed boxes before moving.

• Stay alert, especially when it gets dark. Know where poles and overhead lines are at all times.

• Know what to do if an overhead line contacts equipment. Stay on the equipment. Do not step to the ground. Call 911 and wait until a qualified person tells you it is safe to exit the vehicle. If you must leave the equipment because of a fire or other danger, jump away from the vehicle to avoid touching the equipment and the ground at the same time. To the best of your ability, land with both feet together and then quickly shuffle away — keeping your feet together and on the ground.

• Report damage to wires and poles to avoid power disruptions during harvest season or disruptions down the road.

Never assume a power line is safe to touch. If work requires you to be near a line, call 800-255-4268 and explain the situation. Alliant Energy will discuss options with you or go to your site to make the area safe. If an individual or equipment contacts a power line, do not touch the victim or item. Call 911 and inform the dispatcher of the electrical accident. Always seek medical help for an electrical contact accident, as some injuries might not be visible or can appear several hours later.