Irrigation pipelines play a crucial role on most modern-day farms. Without the ability to carry life-giving water to the far reaches of his land, a farmer stands little chance of raising successful crops. Electric power lines also serve a critical function on today’s rural farms. They carry the energy so vital to the everyday operation of the entire farm. Everything from the milking machines to the family’s washing machines depends on safe, reliable electric power.
These two valuable farm servants – irrigation pipes and electric power lines – must never come into contact with one another. Aluminum irrigation pipe is an excellent conductor of electric current. If a pipe touches a power line, the person holding the pipe is subject to a fatal injury. When it comes time to clean, assemble or disassemble your irrigation lines, please take special care to survey your working area. Although electric distribution lines are usually strung with excellent overhead clearance, remember that you will be working with unusually long pieces of metal pipe. Look overhead and note electric lines which are within reach of the long pipes. When lifting and transporting the pipe, keep well clear of the power lines.
If possible, store your irrigation pipes in an open area well away from power lines. The tendency is to store pipes along the perimeter of a field. But the perimeter is generally where power lines are strung, so it is not usually a safe storage area for the pipes.
It’s so very easy to forget about the presence of power lines. Just one thoughtless moment, however, can result in a tragedy on your farm. Be sure to carefully outline safety procedures to all workers who will be handling your irrigation pipe. Stress the deadly hazard presented by the contact of pipes and electric wires.
Should an accident occur, either with or without injuries, never attempt to remove any pipe sections which are still in contact with the power lines. Contact People’s Electric Cooperative (PEC). Someone trained for this type of emergency will be sent immediately to take care of the problem.
Modern farming requires the use of large, complex machinery. Each year a tragic number of accidents are caused by careless handling of farm equipment around electric power lines. Remember to use caution at all times. Watch for overhead power lines and utility poles and avoid any contact.
Although you may have no power lines whatsoever in your fields, you certainly have them present in equipment storage areas and grain storage areas. Be sure the paths from equipment storage areas to the fields and from the fields to the grain storage areas are safe routes. If there is some question about whether equipment will clear a power conductor, assume that it won’t and take measures to avoid possible contact.
More often than not, power lines follow property lines. When you reach the end of your field and turn on your equipment, there’s a very good chance power lines will be nearby. Always be alert to power lines on your property lines. Grain augers and bins are often used along property lines, too, since such placement appears to make the best use of the land. Again, be sure that the augers don’t come into contact with power lines.
Crop storage equipment such as augers, balers, and stackers can be extended in height to exceed electric code clearance for power lines. When you’re working to store hay, take precautionary measures to be sure the stacking equipment won’t come into contact with the power lines. It only takes one mistake to bring tragedy. If you’re planning the construction of any new storage bins, be sure to take the placement of existing power lines into account. If you simply can’t find adequate space to construct those bins away from power lines, contact PEC for advice.
Electricity and water don’t mix. Never use electrical appliances close to water, and never use electrically operated power tools in the rain or in wet conditions.
- Electric-powered lawnmowers shouldn’t be used when grass is wet.
- Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers before use for frayed power cords, or broken housings or plugs.
- When using tools or extension cords outdoors, make sure they are marked for outdoor use.
- Unplug all portable power tools when they’re not being used. Don’t leave power tools unattended, even briefly.
- Metal ladders conduct electricity. Be careful of overhead wires and power lines.
- Stay away from electrical equipment and substations.
- If you see a downed power line, stay away from it and call 9-1-1 or PEC immediately.