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Don't allow an electrical accident to interrupt harvest

Otter Tail Power Company reminds its customers and neighbors to be careful during this harvest season. Even though harvest is one of the busiest times of the year for farmers, they and their helpers need to pay as much attention to what's above their heads as they do to what's around and below their machines, says Eric Hamm, Otter Tail Power Company's safety services manager.

"When you're working long hours and rushing to beat the weather, it's easy to overlook power lines and related equipment," says Hamm. "But it's important to caution employees and family members working with you about potential hazards." Hamm says safety becomes especially important as hours of darkness increase this time of year.

Here are some additional harvest-time safety tips:

--Always have a spotter when moving large equipment, such as combines, grain augers, beet lifters, and tillage, irrigation, or excavation equipment, near power lines.

--Maintain adequate clearance between an electrical line and the top of any equipment. Don't guess; know the height of the lines and the height of your equipment, including antennas.

--Be careful not to snag electrical equipment on the tractor's rear wheels or with harvesting or tillage equipment in tight turns at the ends of fields.

--Pay special attention when hoisting truck boxes or folding tillage equipment for transport. Might that truck box contact an energized line? Will tillage equipment folded for road travel clear the overhead electrical lines that cross the field approach? When extended, might tillage equipment snag that nearby pole or transformer?

--Lower portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level before moving or transporting them, and use care when raising them.

--Steer clear of power lines, guy wires, transformers, and junction boxes that may be along the edges of fields, in farmyards, and at grain-handling sites.

--Don't build new storage bins near overhead electrical lines.

Hamm says to be aware of what might be in the ground as well. Before tilling an unfamiliar field or excavating to install drain tile, use the One Call service to locate buried utilities. The national number to call is 811. Or call your state's One Call center: 800-252-1166 in Minnesota, 800-795-0555 in North Dakota, 800-781-7474 in South Dakota.

If you are in a vehicle or equipment that's contacted an electrical source, Hamm says to remain there until help arrives. However, if you're in danger of fire or explosion, jump with both feet together and shuffle away. Do not allow contact with the vehicle or equipment and the ground at the same time.

If you encounter an electrical accident, make sure the electrical source no longer poses a threat before assisting a victim. If in doubt, call 911 and wait until help arrives. This year, with excess water in many areas, don't even consider going near a downed electrical line or near water that's in contact with any electrical component such as a pad-mount transformer. And remember, even victims who don't appear to be injured should seek medical advice following an electrical shock because injury may not be apparent immediately.

Hamm adds that an electrical outage caused by mishandled farm machinery can impact a number of customers and poses a threat not only to the farm worker involved but also to medically fragile people who rely on electricity for life-support. "We are especially concerned at this time of year when harvest gets into full swing," said Hamm. "A little planning can help keep everyone safe and productive."

Otter Tail Power Company, a subsidiary of Otter Tail Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select Market: OTTR), is headquartered in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It provides electricity and energy services to more than a quarter million people in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. To learn more about Otter Tail Power Company visit To learn more about Otter Tail Corporation visit