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Safe Electricity Plants Seeds Of Caution Around Power Lines

As farmers make plans to return to their fields for spring planting, Safe Electricity urges farm workers to be particularly alert to the dangers of working near overhead power lines. Operating large equipment near these lines is one of the often overlooked, yet potentially deadly, hazards of working on a farm.


Start by making sure everyone knows to maintain a minimum 10-foot clearance from power lines. “The minimum 10 foot distance is a 360-degree rule—below, to the side, and above lines,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity program. “It can be difficult to estimate distance, and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks. A spotter or someone with a broader view can help.”

Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting tractors on trailer beds. Many tractors are now equipped with radios and communications systems that have very tall antennas extending from the cab that could make contact with power lines. Avoid raising the arms of planters or cultivators or raising truck beds near power lines, and never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path.

Simply coming too close to a power line while working is dangerous as electricity can arc or “jump” to conducting material or objects, such as a ladder, pole, or truck. Remember, non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, tires, ropes, and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust, and dirt contamination.

When guy wires (a grounded wire used to stabilize utility poles) are broken, these normally neutral wires can be anything but harmless. If you hit a guy wire and break it, call the utility to fix it. Do not do it yourself. When dealing with electrical poles and wires, always call the electric utility.

“If your equipment does come into contact with power lines, stay in the cab and call for help,” explains Hall. “If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path to the ground. Even if a line has landed on the ground, there is still potential for the area to be energized. Warn others who may be nearby to stay away and wait until the electric utility arrives.”

“If leaving the cab is necessary, as in the case of fire, the proper action is to jump—not step—with both feet together, hitting the ground at the same time,” Hall advises. “Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. 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 before the power has been shut off.

Managers should make sure full-time and seasonal workers are educated on these safety precautions, and danger areas need to be thoroughly identified and labeled. Designate preplanned routes that avoid hazard areas.

Farmers may want to consider moving or burying power lines around buildings or busy pathways. If planning a new out building or farm structure, contact your power supplier for information on minimum safe clearances from overhead and underground power lines. Call the local utility company to measure line height—no one should attempt this on their own without professional assistance.

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Caution Urged on Dairyland Reservoir


Ladysmith, WI - Dairyland Power Cooperative urges caution to those who are using the Dairyland Reservoir (Ladysmith, Wis.) for recreational activities. The ice becomes unstable and dangerous as spring approaches. 

As the spring run-off starts, Dairyland is implementing a normal drawdown of between one to two feet, to help control levels during rapidly changing flows. The total drawdown could be as much as three feet, depending on the amount of additional precipitation and how quickly the snow melts. 

Fishermen and boaters should also be cautious near the spillway since hazardous currents can develop as flows increase. At all times of the year, dangerous reverse currents in the tailwaters of dams can cause fatalities. Please obey all warning signs, staying away from restricted areas. 

The Flambeau Hydroelectric Station, located on the Flambeau River five miles northeast of Ladysmith, has been generating clean, efficient electricity since 1951. This water-powered facility can generate 22 MW of electricity. Throughout the year, Dairyland welcomes area residents and visitors to enjoy the many recreational opportunities available on both the Reservoir and the public land surrounding it.

Know How to Stay Safe from Lightning Strikes

A rainy day can all too quickly turn into a disaster when thunder and lightning are present. The high level of voltage in lightning is not something with which to take chances. According to data collected by the National Weather Service, 287 lightning fatalities were reported between 2006 and 2014. Knowing how to stay protected in a storm is key to preventing a tragedy and costly injuries.

Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity program, points out, “It is very important to keep in mind that there is no safe place from lightning when you are outside. It is important to heed the advice of the National Weather Service, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors.’”

The best way to stay safe from the threat of lightning is to stay inside and avoid interacting with any appliances, electrical outlets and wires, cables, phone lines, water, and piping.

Preparation is also important. Listen to, watch, or download weather forecasts so that you know if there is a chance of severe weather. If there is a chance, reschedule the activity or make sure you can get to a safe location if a thunderstorm develops. Safe shelters are in fully enclosed buildings or in a fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle.

Open vehicles, such as convertibles, motorcycles, and golf carts, are not safe. Open structures — such as porches, gazebos, pavilions, and baseball dugouts — are not safe either.

Before the thunderstorm, turn off or unplug corded appliances, stay away from television sets, and do not depend on surge protectors to absorb a lightning strike. Turn off your air conditioner to help protect the compressor from a potential power surge and costly repairs from the storm.

Also, during the thunderstorm, do not lie on concrete floors and avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

After a storm, wait until 30 minutes have passed without lightning or thunder before returning outside. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining. If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and care for the victim immediately.  You are not in danger of being shocked or electrocuted by the victim.

The potential long-term effects of a lightning strike can be just as brutal as the accident itself, so take precautions. Check weather forecasts, and plan to be inside a safe shelter.

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