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Don't let electrical accidents crop up during harvest

Even though harvest is one of the busiest times of the year for farmers, you and your helpers need to pay as much attention to what's above your heads as you do to what's below your machines, says Ryan Smith, manager of safety services for Otter Tail Power Company.

Remember to look up. "When you're working long hours and rushing to beat the weather, it's easy to overlook power lines and related equipment," says Smith. "But it's important to caution employees and family members working with you about potential hazards." Smith says safety becomes especially important with increased hours of darkness at 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 or irrigation equipment, near power lines.

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

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

Be careful when entering or leaving a field and traveling over an approach. That's where farmers may encounter unexpected power lines.

Smith says to be careful about what's in the ground as well. Before tilling an unfamiliar field or doing any excavating, 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, Smith 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. Even victims who don't appear to be injured should seek medical advice because injury from an electrical shock may not be apparent immediately.

Smith adds that electrical outages caused by mishandled farm machinery pose a threat not only to the farmers involved but also to medically fragile people who rely on electricity for life-support systems.

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