If you are moving it around, be sure to look up first. Harvesttime is crunch time, so farmers are under unusual stress to accomplish multiple tasks each day.
According to LeAnne Doose, public relations coordinator with Southern Public Power District, this hurried state of mind causes more farm accidents related to electrical safety. Incidences of large field equipment contacting electrical lines and power sources have increased often because of farmers’ stress trying to plant, replant, spray or harvest ahead of the weather.
Safety needs to come first. Electrical safety hot-line trailer demonstrations at Husker Harvest Days aim to show producers how to be safe around power lines.
The official sponsor is Customer Solutions Network, a group of representatives from public power districts in Nebraska. Some of the participating districts include Loup PPD, Dawson PPD, Custer PPD and Southern PPD, which all provide staffing and line workers for the demonstrations.
There are a lot of issues across the state. Large structures, pivots and even buildings are often moved without the operator notifying the local public power district, Doose says.
“Nebraska law LB973, passed in 2016, requires that electric utilities be notified in writing at least 10 days prior to a structure move, such as buildings or pivots,” she says. “Many rural public power districts have made available forms on their websites to comply with this requirement, and they are commonly called an ‘oversized load proof of notification’ form.”
According to Doose, not only is unauthorized manipulation of power lines against the law, but it is also dangerous. The intent of this law is to ensure the safety of the public as these large structures are moved, and to prevent power outages for utility customers.
‘Hot dog’ demo
Demonstrations at HHD show an actual 7,200-volt arc. Technicians will show what can happen to human flesh in a burn by showing the damage to a hot dog or a pickle in contact with an energized line.
“The hot dog demonstration is one that tends to strike a nerve with most people,” Doose says. “The hot dog shows how it actually works. After roasting the hot dog on the power lines, when they cut it open, people are surprised at how burned it is on the inside,” she says. “Then you think about what happens with your flesh. The damage to the outside is sometimes obvious, but we are surprised at the damage on the inside.”
Demonstrations will focus on practicing safety, even when operations are hurried. “We want these farmers to be around for lots of planting and harvest seasons,” she says.
Audiences can expect to learn the precautions needed when working out in the field near power lines. Also, line workers educate farmers about how to respond if they come into contact with a power line with their field equipment or a vehicle. Line workers share basic safety tips for children, including how to use electricity safely in and near the home, and to avoid a downed power line and call the local utility.
“At HHD, it gives power districts the chance to come in from all across the state and to connect with people from all parts of Nebraska and the region,” Doose says. “If the information we offer can save just one life with these demonstrations, then we have done our job.”