Cody's story could easily be your story.
It was an "all call" day at the ag fertilizer company where Cody worked. He delivered a truck of fertilizer and began the process of filling the sprayer, a task he'd done dozens of times. No one knows for sure what went wrong, but the guess is that as the sprayer unfolded, a sprayer tip grazed the power line.
Though in contact for only a moment, the stray electricity moved through the tip, boom, tractor, and down to the ground where Cody was standing. When he touched the camlock which connects the hoses, 7,400 volts of electricity flowed through his body, throwing him backward to the ground.
CPR was started in the field, and Cody was taken by ambulance, then medevac, to a level 1 trauma center. He lost an arm and leg as the tissue damage moved through his body for weeks.
"After watching Cody experience immense pain, lose two of his limbs, undergo numerous surgeries and learn to walk again, we knew life wasn’t going to be the same. We knew that the ‘normal’ before was not going to be the ‘normal’ after. There are days that are perfect, when the world is right, and there are the bad days." Baily, Cody's wife
Cody's and Baily's lives continue. They adapt to the twists and turns of their life together. Cody navigates the challenges he faces with a different dominant hand than before the accident. Some days he can’t do everything he wants to because of his pain. Bailey still struggles at times with what happened that day in May.
Electricity can travel through anything in its path. Unintended contact can happen in an instant. The area where Cody was standing and the equipment was energized for only a split second or two.
Pay attention a little more. Keep an eye on your surroundings. Just take an extra second to look at things, to see how your situation is going to unfold.” Cody
Do your grain bins have enough clearance?
To stay safe, many farming tasks require looking up and around for power lines when operating large equipment with antennas or when using long implements.
The National Electrical Safety Code addresses grain bins and their proximity to power lines with very specific requirements. The code does so to decrease the chances of farming equipment and machinery coming in contact with a live electrical line and because utility lines have clearance requirements.
If you are planning on building a new grain bin or remodeling around an area that already has one, contact your local power provider. We can help with specific code requirements.
- The taller a grain bin, the farther it must be placed from a power line.
- Not only is placing a grain bin too close to a power line extremely dangerous, it will most likely need to be relocated due to one or more code violations, and usually at the owner’s expense.
Remember, calling your provider before installing a new grain bin or making changes around an existing one is free. Moving one is costly, it interrupts your farming schedule and is just an all-around hassle. The NESC specifies both horizontal and vertical distance requirements so don’t leave a bin’s location to chance.
- A grain bin that is 30 feet high must be at least 93 feet from a power line, and all bins must have an 18-foot minimum vertical clearance from the highest point of the bin’s filling port.
- There are also distance requirements for non-loading sides of bins. In addition, changes to the ground (landscaping, filling) and drainage work can affect clearance heights.
Even if you are not getting a new grain bin or making changes around an existing one, remember to always maintain adequate clearance when using a portable auger, conveyor or elevator to fill you grain bin or when moving machinery or farming equipment anywhere on your farm.
What to do in an emergency
If your machinery or vehicle does come in contact with a power line, do not get out of the cab. Call 9-1-1 and the dispatched utility will de-energize the power so that you can safely exit your tractor or vehicle.
Increase your safety yield during harvest.
Especially during the busy harvest season, help decrease the chances of an electrical-related incident:
- Always use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
- Use care when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
- Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines at all times, in all directions.
- Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
- Always lower extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads.
- Never try to move or raise a power line for clearance; instead call us.
- If your equipment does come in contact with a power line, do not leave the cab. Immediately call 9-1-1, warn others to stay away, and wait for the utility crew to cut the power.
What's your plan for harvest?
Breakdowns. Long hours. Setbacks. There is no way to predict what harvest will bring. Have your PLAN in place to manage your stress for a safe and healthy harvest.
- Prepare for the season
With preparation, some stress can be avoided. Anticipate the demands of harvest and plan ahead. For example, prep healthy meals, fuel equipment and perform routine maintenance ahead of schedule. What can you do to prepare?
- Lean on loved ones
Seeking support from others rather than taking on everything yourself can help reduce stress. Text or call a friend or family member when you need support. Whom can you lean on?
- Activate coping mechanisms
Coping mechanisms can help manage stress. They include engaging in physical activity, finding ways to make yourself laugh and carving out time for hobbies. Which coping mechanisms will you use?
- Nip negative self-talk
Negative self-talk leads to decreased morale and feelings of hopelessness. When your inner critic nags, be kind to yourself and remember thoughts are not reality. How will you tell your inner critic to take a hike?
Handle irrigation equipment with care.
Irrigation watering pipes are often made of aluminum, a great conductor of electricity. Talk to everyone in your family (including kids and teens) about the dangers of moving pipes. Teach irrigation safety to all staff and seasonal workers.
- When assembling irrigation systems, be extremely careful when handling long sections of pipe.
- Always consider your location and the length of the pipe you are holding.
- Make sure the pipe’s long reach will not come near or into contact with power lines.
- If the pipe touches or comes too close to a power line, you could be electrocuted.
- Do not store, handle or assemble irrigation pipes under or near overhead power lines.
During busy planting season, follow these eight safety tips:
- Transport Safely: Ensure equipment is compliant with agriculture road and travel safety rules.
- Share Safety Tips: Teach anyone working or doing business on your fam about electrical hazards.
- Encourage Young Workers: Be sure to match age and ability level with each chore.
- Be Clear: Explain where each field is.
- Write It Down: Keep directions, with proper road and farm names, at home, in the shop, and in cabs.
- Look Around: Inspect your space and look for hazards before you start planting.
- Evaluate Procedures: Consider new safety precautions you can implement, such as lockout and tagout.
- Meet and Discuss: Conduct morning safety meetings to brief everyone on the day and talk about potential hazards.
For more information about electrical safety, including farming-related safety tips, visit: Safe Electricity.