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Watch Out for Power Lines While Spraying

Watch Out for Power Lines While Spraying
Hidden dangers loom in the landscape.

You may think you take all the safety precautions you need, and an accident can never happen to you. Gideon Nobbe did practice safety in his former job as a custom applicator, but he still discovered that accidents can happen anyway.

Nobbe, from Fayette County, was spraying a field of corn a couple of years ago when things went awry. He had sprayed the field and was positioning the booms back in the cradle for transport from the cab. He knew here were power lines along the road, and for whatever reason, there were also residential transmission lines actually in the field. However, he thought the lines lined up together. They didn't. One set was behind he other, well into the field.

The net result was that a nozzle of one of his booms hooked on a utility line. However, he was unaware of what was wrong. He saw smoke out in front of the sprayer as the electricity traveled through the machine. He was safe as long as he was in the machine and not an easy conduit form the machine to the ground. Unfortunately, he didn't know that it was electricity causing the smoke. His first reaction was that the sprayer had overheated and was on fire.

The next natural reaction was to climb out and see what was wrong. Fortunately, he twisted off the ladder at an angle instead of stepping squarely off onto the ground. He received a jolt of electricity, which would cause scarring to his hands and feet, but he was able to free himself and crawl away from the sprayer. Since the ground was very dry, there wasn't any charge going through the ground, so once on the ground free from the sprayer, he was out of reach of the current- some 7,000 volts.

It was one of those accidents that happen to other people, but this time it happened to him. It only takes a short miscalculation in judgment to result in a major tragedy.

Nobbe no longer works in that industry, but he is willing to tell his story and show his scars, even the ones on his feet, in the belief that it might impress upon someone else to remember just how dangerous working in farm situations can be. He knows he was lucky, despite the injuries and scars he has.

Read a more complete description of his incident, plus find insight into how this young man intends to stay connected to agriculture, in upcoming editions of Indiana Prairie Farmer.

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