Electric Safety

Would you know what to do if your vehicle or piece of equipment came in contact with a power line?


STAY PUT

If your equipment or vehicle contacts a power line, stay inside the cab/vehicle. DO NOT EXIT. Call 911 and Sioux Valley Energy for help and warn anyone nearby not to approach your vehicle. Only exit the vehicle after you are told by the authorities that it is safe to do so.

Exiting a vehicle that has contacted energized power lines can cause electrocution. The downed power lines could be charging the equipment with electricity and, if you step out, you will become the electricity’s path to the ground and could be killed by electric shock.

 

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JUMP CLEAR

If you must get out of your vehicle because of a fire, tuck your arms across your body and jump with your feet together as far as possible from the equipment so no part of your body touches the vehicle and the ground at the same time.

Move away from the vehicle with your feet together, either by hopping or shuffling, until you are at least 40 feet away. Electricity spreads through the ground in ripples. Keeping your feet together prevents one foot from stepping into a higher voltage zone than the other foot, which could cause electrocution.


STAY AWAY

When you are clear of the area, call for help and keep others away. DO NOT approach your vehicle again until utility crews and emergency responders tell you it is safe.  Watch the video below to learn more.

Safety Resources

A generator can be a valuable piece of equipment to keep appliances working during a power outage. Generators can be either temporary or permanently installed.

A permanent generator is wired into a house by a qualified electrician using a transfer switch that prevents a generator from feeding electricity back into overhead lines, which can be deadly for linemen.

A temporary generator is powered by gasoline and should not be attached to a circuit breaker, fuse, or outlet. Before ever purchasing a generator you need to know the wattage required to run the appliances you will attach to the generator. You also need to know the surge power, which is the power it takes to turn an appliance on.

Once you have purchased the proper generator, follow these tips from Safe Electricity to properly operate your generator:

  • Read and follow all manufacturer operating instructions to properly ground the generator. Be sure you understand them before hooking up the generator.
  • Never operate a generator in a confined area, such as a garage. Generators can produce numerous gases, including toxic and deadly carbon monoxide. They require proper ventilation.
  • Generators pose electrical risks especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only when necessary when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under it. Always ensure that your hands are dry before touching the generator.
  • When you refuel the generator, make sure the engine is cool to prevent a fire, should the tank overflow.
  • There should be nothing plugged into the generator when you turn it on. This prevents a surge from damaging your generator and appliances.
  • Be sure to keep children and pets away from the generator, which could burn them.
  • Shut down the generator properly. Before shutting down a generator, turn off and unplug all appliances and equipment being powered by the generator.
  • Remember maintenance between uses. It is also a good idea to inspect the fuel and oil filters, spark plug, oil level and fuel quality and to start the generator on a regular basis before an emergency situation occurs.

For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Digging without locating underground utilities, even the smallest digging projects, could leave neighborhoods in the dark, cause thousands of dollars in damages, or cause severe electrical shock. To help stay safe, make use of the national underground utility locating service for free by calling 811.

The 811 “Call Before You Dig” number will route you to your local utility locating service. Make sure to tell the operator where and when you plan to dig and what type of work you will be doing. From there, it takes a few business days for a professional to come mark your public utilities with flags or spray paint. So make sure to plan ahead and call in advance.

There are different colors of paint and flags that mark the underground utilities, and each color is universal to what utility is buried.

  • Red – Electric
  • Orange – Communications, Telephone/CATV
  • Blue – Potable Water
  • Green – Sewer/Drainage
  • Yellow – Gas/Petroleum Pipe Line
  • Purple – Reclaimed Water
  • White – Premark site of intended excavation

Even if you previously had utilities located by calling 811, it is best to call before every digging project. Underground utilities can shift, and it is important to be certain of where they are before ever putting a shovel in the ground.

It is important to understand that 811 locators do not locate privately installed facilities. If you have any private utilities, you will need to hire a private utility locator. Some examples of private utilities include: underground sprinkler system, invisible fences, data communication systems, private water systems, or gas piping to a garage.

Once all of your underground utilities have been located, it is time to start digging, but be sure to wear all of the proper protective gear before putting the shovel into the earth.

For more information about 811 and digging safety, visit Call811.com and SafeElectricity.org.

In 2017, farmers ranked eighth in the list of the most dangerous jobs (civilian jobs with highest fatality rates) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics/U.S. Dept. of Labor. Unfortunately, farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers rank right below other hazardous jobs such as logging, roofing, and steel work.

It is no wonder farmers make that list. As agriculturists are well-aware, many dangers are present in their long and arduous workdays.

Safe Electricity and Sioux Valley Energy remind farmers that accidents related to power and electricity are also possible but in most cases they can be prevented. Especially during the busy harvest season, take the following steps to decrease the chances of an electrical-related incident:

  • Always use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
  • Use care when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines — at all times, in all directions.
  • Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Always lower extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, call us right away.
  • If your equipment does hit a power line, do not leave the cab. Immediately call 9-1-1, warn others to stay away, and wait for the utility crew to cut the power.

Although harvest season is a time filled with tight deadlines and heightened work stress, take the time to consider electrical safety. It could save your live or the lives of others.

For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Electrical power is an indispensable part of modern agricultural operations. In fact, electricity is such a commonplace part of a farm operation that it can all too easily become a part of the scenery and its hazards overlooked. One often overlooked safety consideration is the power line clearance required for grain bins. Safe Electricity provides tips on avoiding electrical hazards around the farm, including the construction of grain bins.

Electrical hazards include large equipment and farm structures near overhead power lines. The best way to avoid problems is to keep equipment and new constructions a safe distance from power lines.

Equipment and vehicles, such as augers and grain trucks, around grain bins are particularly at risk of coming into contact with overhead power lines. It is important that bins be built a safe distance from power lines to help ensure the safety all farm workers.

The National Electrical Safety Code sets the minimum distance that power lines must be above and around grain bins. Your state and utility may have additional requirements. If planning on constructing a new grain bin, contact your local utility before any construction begins. They can help you determine minimum safety requirements.

Keep these additional safety tips in mind anytime you are operating large farm equipment around power lines:

  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines—at all times, in all directions.
  • Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Always remember to lower extensions when moving loads.
  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, contact your local utility.

If equipment does come into contact with a power line, remember, stay on the equipment until the utility has arrived to de-energize the lines. Warn others to stay away, and call the local utility provider immediately. The only reason to exit is if the equipment is on fire. If this is the case, jump off the equipment with your feet together and without touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, “bunny hop” away to safety.

For more electrical safety information, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Overhead power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity. If a line is down, always assume it is energized and dangerous, even if the power is out in your area. Touching or getting near a live power line injures and kills.

Never approach an accident scene where a line is down or damaged. If you run toward the accident to help, you too could become a victim by entering the energized area.

Power lines can come down or sag close to the ground for a few reasons: severe weather or damage due to a car accident, for instance. And a downed line isn’t always visible. After severe weather, lines can lurk underneath water or debris.

Stay clear of all types of utility lines. Even if you think lines might be designated for telephone or cable service, they may have contact with damaged and energized power lines nearby. Safe Electricity and Sioux Valley Energy offer these additional safety reminders:

  • Call 9-1-1 to report fallen or damaged power lines.
  • Power lines do not have to be arcing or sparking or making a humming noise to be live.
  • Do not attempt to move a downed line or anything it is touching with another object such as a stick or pole. Even materials that don’t normally conduct electricity can do so if they are slightly wet.
  • Do not step in water or walk in debris near a downed power line.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from the downed power line.
  • Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line.
  • If a power line falls on your vehicle while driving, do not attempt to drive away or get out. Call for help and STAY INSIDE THE VEHICLE until utility crews say it is safe to get out. If there is a fire or you smell gasoline, hop out without touching the vehicle at the same time and DO NOT WALK, but hop away to safety.
  • Line properties can change: Any power line that is dead could become energized at any moment due to power restoration or back feed from backup generators.

Always consider all lines, regardless of the type, energized at deadly voltages. For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

If you are a homeowner, the weekend is often your opportunity to tackle one of the projects on your to-do list. Whether it is trimming the hedges, washing windows, building a patio, fixing the garage door, or whatever may be waiting for you on your list, Safe Electricity reminds you to prepare to handle all projects safely.

Begin by making sure you have got the right tools for the job. Also check cords for any cracks or frayed insulation and proper connections. Then take note of potential hazards in the work area such as overhead power lines, especially those connected to the home.

Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal tools like ladders, pool skimmers, and pruning poles; when installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes; or when doing roof repair work.

Other safety tips to keep in mind when tackling DIY projects include:

  • Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from lines.
  • Use only extension cords that are rated for outdoor use when working outside. Keep your work area tidy and do not allow your power cords to tangle.
  • Use heavy-duty, three-prong extension cords for tools with three-prong plugs. Never remove or bend back the third prong on extension cords.
  • Remember that electricity and water are a dangerous mix. If it is raining or the ground is wet, do not use electric power or yard tools. Never use electrical appliances or touch circuit breakers or fuses when you are wet or standing in water. Keep electric equipment at least 10 feet from wet areas.
  • Make sure outdoor outlets are equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). If your outdoor outlets do not have them, use a portable GFCI.
  • If your projects include digging, like building a patio or planting a tree, call 811 to have utility lines marked before you begin. This service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted, and can help you avoid serious injury.
  • Be willing to hire a licensed professional for projects that involve electrical wiring or work close to electrical equipment.

For more information on home safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

When trees grow into or near power lines, they pose a threat to safety and to the reliability of your electrical service. Safe Electricity shares tips to help you avoid such dangers through needed pruning and planting trees in locations where they will not grow into overhead power lines.

Water, sap, and chemicals in trees make them able to conduct electricity. Be sure that no one climbs a tree near power lines. If branches are touching the wires, the tree could be energized. Even branches not touching power lines could become energized if a child’s weight is added.

Severe weather can cause tree limbs to fall. If the trees are located near overhead power lines, they can damage the electrical wires that provide you and your neighbors with power, resulting in downed lines and power outages. Pruning is an important and necessary step in helping prevent these issues. Trimming trees near power lines is a dangerous job and best left to professionals.

In order to help maintain safety and electrical service reliability, your utility may either prune trees that are too close to power lines or will contact a tree trimming service to do so. Although simply trimming a tree is usually enough, some trees that are at risk of damaging power lines during severe weather—like dead or dying trees or those with a shallow root system—may need removed completely.

If you live in an area where there is a risk of wildfire, keep in mind that it is recommend that you create a defensible space around the perimeter of your home to slow or stop the spread of a fire. Within 30 feet from your home and structure, trim trees to a minimum of 10 feet from other trees and remove branches that hang over the roof.

When planting new trees, take care to plan for safety. Pick the right types of trees to plant in the right locations where they will not grow to be a problem with overhead power lines. It is also important to consider the location of underground lines. Remember to call 811 to have buried utilities marked so that you can safely dig around them.

Make sure you know the expected mature height and width of the tree. Plant tall growing trees with a mature height of greater than 40 feet at least 50 feet away from lines to avoid future pruning. A mature height of less than 15 feet is recommended if planting near lines. Keep in mind, trees should never be planted directly under power lines, near poles, or too close to electrical equipment.

For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Sioux Valley Energy can provide electrical safety training and educational programs for schools and other organizations. For more information, call Sioux Valley Energy at 1-800-234-1960. 

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