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What Could a Poster on an Electric Pole Hurt?

You see them all the time - flyers - but should they be there?

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

September 30, 2010

2 Min Read

Almost everyone can recall seeing a flyer of some sort stapled to a utility pole, even in rural areas. The greater problem might be finding someone who has not seen a flyer for some event either tacked or staples to a utility pole.

So what's the big deal? How in the world could a piece of paper hurt anyone? How could it be a safety risk?

"It's not the piece of paper that we're worried about," explains Wayne Newhart, representing Indiana Statewide REMC. He's retired from a long career working at the Tip-Mont REMC.

"No one thinks about it, but something as simple as a staple or a tack left behind that could tear even a tiny hole in a lineman's glove could be deadly," Newhart says. "It's those gloves that protect linemen from serious injury should they make an error and come into contract with a live wire at high voltage.

It's not something you would even think about yet it can cause catastrophic damage. And if it only happens once, that's once too often. Don't put flyers on utility poles!

"We also have trouble with electric lines that have grown into trees,' he notes. "We try to keep branches around lines cut out. But we still can have problems. Young children like to climb trees and see how high they can go. They like to show off to mom and dad."

Chuck Tieman, a former lineman who suffered a debilitating injury, joins Newhart at some of the electric safety presentations. "There was actually a case where a young girl climbed a tree with mom watching, and kept going higher and higher. She eventually grabbed a power line that was going through the tree, not thinking it would be hot.

"It took a long time to get the power shut off because of how events unfolded. It was a heartbreaking case. Tree-houses in trees with electric lines near the branches just aren't a good idea either."

Kids will be kids, he notes. Should that happen at your home, and someone in a tree contact a power line, call 911 immediately, he advises. Then call the utility yourself to have them turn off the power. Don't assume something will trip out or that someone else will call it in. Stay clam and make these two calls. It may be your loved one's only chance.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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