Electrical Safety

Work Safely Around Power Lines

Electricity is just as important on the farm as in the office today but presents more potential hazards for the farmer or rancher than for the computer operator. Every year, serious accidents involving electricity occur on American farms. Most could be prevented with a few simple safety steps.First, make sure that you, your family and your farm workers know the location of overhead power lines, and map out ways to avoid them when moving equipment. Make sure everyone understands that any contact with these lines creates a path to the ground for electricity and carries the potential for a serious, even fatal, accident.

Everyone should know the height of all your farm equipment and how high those power lines are to prevent accidental contact. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.

Be extra-careful when moving irrigation pipes. Many electrical accidents on farms occur when irrigation pipes are accidentally raised into power lines. The combination can be deadly!

Avoid moving large equipment alone. Have someone watch out for you as you drive equipment to ensure that you stay clear of the power lines.

These rules also apply to guy wires, which support power line poles. Damaging guy wires can weaken the poles and even cause them to topple, bringing live power lines down onto the ground and creating an extremely hazardous situation.

Do you have questions about electrical safety in your home or on your farm? Call your electric cooperative for assistance. Your co-op is always glad to help – after all it’s a consumer-owned utility.

Source: Food and Energy Council website

Are Surges Really a Problem?

On/Off Circuit BreakerMore than 50% of today’s residential products contain electronic components and the list is growing. Most people only think of computers, TVs and VCRs when you mention electronic appliances, but many of the newer products, such as stoves, refrigerators and heating and cooling systems contain sophisticated electronic circuits.

Every small surge deteriorates the electronic components in this equipment, which can drastically shorten their designed life. The average home has 2,200 or more surges annually. These surges can be generated from a number of sources, such as heaters, dryers, garage door openers and motors starting on air conditioners, freezers, and well-pumps. Most of these surges are so small the average consumer does not see the damage they cause. However, your electronics take a constant "pounding." When a thunderstorm strikes, the electronic components may fail and you may think lightning caused the damage. In reality the product was already on the brink of failing because of the many constant low-level surges from your own equipment.

Whole-house protection with proper grounding and end-use protection for each piece of equipment will give you the best possible protection available.

Lighting Paths

Be aware that a high voltage surge can enter equipment through paths other than the power cord. These paths include the TV antenna, cable TV, telephone lines or other attachments. Surge protectors for the antenna, cable, and phones lines must be plugged into a grounded three-prong outlet to protect your equipment.

Grounded Outlet Diagram Figure(A) and Figure (B)
Is that outlet grounded?

Grounded outlets were not required until the mid 70s. Your home may have been built with two-prong outlets, and a previous well-intentioned homeowner may have replaced the old two-prong outlets with newer three-prong version. However, unless he installed a ground wire, it is still a non-grounded outlet. Outlet testers are an inexpensive way to see if the outlet is wired properly. A tester can be purchased at most hardware and home centers.

If your outlet is not properly grounded or if it is an older two-prong outlet (Figure A) it would be preferable to have an electrician run a ground wire to the outlet.

Electronic equipment must be plugged directly into the surge suppressor with the surge suppressor plugged directly into a grounded wall outlet (Figure B) for full warranty coverage.

Use of Extension Cords Invalidates All Warranties.

Keep Landscaping Away from Safety Boxes

Electrical safety boxIf your home is served by underground electric cable, you may want to plant some flowers or shrubs nearby to disguise that transformer cabinet on your property. Don't do it!

Our line crews need easy access to those cabinets to perform maintenance and repairs. Shrubs and trees and even flowerbeds can block access, and after the work is done, you'll be unhappy about the state of your plants!

Also, it's simply dangerous to plant or work close to these transformer cabinets. They contain high-voltage lines that should be avoided at all times, except by our trained personnel. So give those cabinets a wide berth – and teach your children to stay away, too. Warn them not to play around the cabinet. And never open it!