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Watch Out For Power Lines

Power lines on the farm aren’t something most people pay attention to, but they can be deadly if they come down. Electricity always seeks the easiest and shortest path to the ground so if your body touches a power source, or even the ripple effect of a downed wire, it will attempt to travel through your body and can be fatal.

Aaron Yoder is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health at the University of Nebraska. He says you can’t tell just by looking if a wire is live or not, so if you see a downed power line, stay away from it.

"If you’re away from it and you can make a call, call 911 and alert the authorities that the power lines are down and they’ll call out the appropriate people to do that. Sometimes the vehicles do come in contact with them and then you need to do a little more evaluation," says Yoder. "They tell you to stay in your vehicle as long as possible, call for help."

If you’re in a vehicle and there’s a life-threatening situation like a fire, jump from the highest point as far as you can away from the vehicle. Yoder says it will have to be a gymnastic move.

"You’re supposed to keep your feet together because when you separate your feet it creates a difference in electrical potential and can cause electrocution that way," he says. "So, you keep your feet together and you hop away from the machine until you’re a good 20 or 30 feet away from it."

If you can’t hop, slowly shuffle your feet, keeping both feet constantly on the ground. Don’t touch anything the line is touching, especially metal. However, if conditions are wet, nonmetal objects such as soil, branches, even straw could be energized.

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