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Don't let electrical accidents crop up this spring

Planting season is one of the busiest times of the year. Yet, farmers and their helpers need to pay as much attention to what's above their heads and within reach of their machinery as they do to their tillage and planting work, says Eric Hamm, manager of safety services for Otter Tail Power Company.

When farmers work long hours, it's easy to overlook power lines and related equipment, according to Hamm. It is important to be careful not to snag electrical equipment with their machinery.

Here are some additional planting season safety tips.

• Always have a spotter when moving large equipment near power lines or related equipment.

• Pay special attention when hoisting truck boxes or folding tillage equipment for transport.

• Lower augers to the lowest possible level before moving or transporting them.

• Maintain adequate clearance between an electrical line and the top of any equipment.

• Caution employees and family members about potential hazards.

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

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 farmers involved but also to others who rely on electricity for critical systems.

"You pay for the repairs if you're responsible for the damage," Hamm said. "Replacing a pole, for example, easily can cost thousands of dollars."

If you are in a vehicle or equipment that's accidentally contacted an electrical source, Hamm says to remain there until help arrives. However, if there is 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 9-1-1 and wait until help arrives.

Victims who don't appear to be injured should seek medical advice because injury from electrical shock may not be immediately apparent.

Hamm said to be aware of what might be in the ground as well. Before tilling an unfamiliar field or doing any excavating, use the One Call service to locate buried utilities: 8-1-1 nationally or 1-800-252-1166 in Minnesota.