Be Safe Around Power Lines!

When using spray rigs and other farm equipment, it is important to be aware of your surroundings, including the location of power lines. This is especially true when you enter or exit the field and start unfolding and folding the spraying equipment.  Before using equipment, plan a route that will avoid overhead power lines or adjust equipment before reaching power lines if you cannot avoid these areas.
Unfortunately, accidents occasionally do happen.  For those of us not farming, if we hit a power line accidently, we could end up with the energized power line across our vehicle.  If your equipment or vehicle should hit a power line, always assume that the area around the vehicle is electrified and follow these important steps to keep yourself safe. As long as there is not a fire:
1.      Stay in your vehicle as the ground can be electrified.
2.      Call 911 and/or the power company – if you do not have a phone, the power company will be out to check on the power disruption, stay with the vehicle.
3.      Do no try to pull your rig from the power lines or poles, you will cause more damage to the line.
If a fire starts after hitting the power line, you must escape the vehicle quickly, but safely:
1.      Stay seated and open the door completely, looking around to make sure no wires are exposed.
2.      Stand in the door frame with feet together and arms crossed.
3.      Jump from the vehicle as far as possible, keeping your arms crossed and feet together; never touch the ground and vehicle together at the same time, as electricity can flow through you from the rig to the ground.
4.      Keep your feet together; separating your feet allows electricity to flow from one foot, through your body, to the other, causing serious injury or even death.
5.      Hop at least 10 meters from the site of the accident, then slowly slide your feet apart. If you feel tingling, continue to hop farther away until you are safe.  If you cannot hop, shuffle your feet slowly keeping both feet on the ground at all times.
6.      Call 911 and/or the power company.
Note that other people in the vicinity should be aware of the possible danger and avoid the area. Because of the conduction capability from the vehicle to the ground, anyone in the area is at risk of electrocution if they approach the site of the accident. This is called “step potential.” Instead of running toward the vehicle after witnessing the accident, bystanders can offer their assistance by calling 911 and/or the power company for help.
Watch these videos for more information:
       Step Potential:
       Nebraska Public Power District:
       Animated demo:
This education is the idea of the Cornhusker Power District of Columbus.  For the past three years, representatives of Cornhusker have been coming to the Pesticide Training classes held during the winter to present this safety message.  Thanks to them for getting us this educational information and thanks to the UNL Pesticide Office for some of the rest of this column’s information.
For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Extension in Platte County.  Phone: 402-563-4901 or e-mail