With the fall season underway, Rocky Mountain Power reminds farmers and ranchers to avoid potential electrical hazards while working in fields or orchards, or with farming equipment.
Electricity enables hundreds of jobs to be done every day in the business of farming and ranching. It lights and powers homes and shops, runs dairy equipment, pumps irrigation water; and helps move, condition and store crops. However, electricity also can be dangerous if proper safety precautions aren't taken.
"Failing to follow safety guidelines when farming or ranching near power lines can result in life-altering consequences. Electrical contact by workers or equipment can cause serious injury or even death," said Mike Felice, Rocky Mountain Power's safety director.
Rocky Mountain Power wants farm and ranch workers to avoid electrical hazards by keeping basic safety rules in mind:
Look up. Always look up for overhead power lines before beginning any activity.
Follow the 10-foot rule. Keep everything, the worker, the tools and materials that are being handled and the equipment that is being operated - as far away as possible from all power lines and never come closer than 10 feet. Any contact with wires by branches, pipe or equipment can be fatal.
Never stand an irrigation pipe on end near a power line.
Always lower grain augers and other crop-handling and tilling equipment before moving them anywhere near power lines. Have someone spot for workers.
Stack irrigation pipe, hay and hay bales away from power lines. Never store materials directly underneath or adjacent to power lines. Irrigate with care. Do not spray water on power lines, equipment or structures. Not only can it damage equipment and short-circuit the electrical system, a stream of water hitting a power line can create a path for electricity.
Call before you dig. When you dig, you run the risk of breaking a utility line. Always call 811 prior to starting any digging project to have underground facilities such as electricity, gas, water, sewer and telecommunications lines located and marked for free.
Use caution when moving equipment near power poles. Beware of hooking guy wires - non-energized cables used to secure power poles to the ground - when moving equipment. Even if you don't bring a structure or wire down, you may weaken the structure or create slack in the line. Keep vehicles, tools and people clear of guy wires at all times. If you strike a guy wire or pole, call Rocky Mountain Power immediately at 888-221-7070, and stay away from the downed equipment until help arrives.
If a power line falls across a vehicle, combine or other riding equipment while you are in it, stay put until emergency personnel have arrived and cut power to the line. Warn others to stay away. If the vehicle or equipment catches fire and you must get off, jump with both feet together as far away from the vehicle or equipment as possible (never touching the vehicle or equipment and the ground at the same time). Keeping both feet together, hop away until you are a safe distance from the downed line and energized equipment (at least 30 feet).