December - Electrical Safety on the Farm
Electrical Safety on the Farm
There are so many things that we take for granted, around the stations and our farms that are involved with electricity. Obviously, electricity is an essential source of energy on our farms. Few resources have a greater potential to cause harm than electricity. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused. If there are any doubts about electrical circuits, wiring and equipment on your farm, have a licensed electrician inspect them.
As we all know, electricity enters the farm through a control panel and a main switch where a person can shut off all the power in an emergency. All panels will have either breakers or fuses.
- Always use the correct fuse for the panel. Never use a greater number amp or replace with pennies.
- If you have a power stoppage, check the panel. If fuses are used, look for the broken metal strip in the top of the blown fuse. Replace it with another of the correct amperage.
- If circuit breakers are used, reset them from on to off.
- Check to see why the fuse or circuit blew. It could be frayed wires, overloaded outlets or defective appliances.
- Never overload a circuit with high wattage appliances.
- Install a lockout switch that can turn off all power from one area. This is important if there is an emergency or when working on the system.
Ground the entire system. Protect ground wires and rods from damage. Ground outlets that are outside or may come in contact with water.
To determine if an outlet is grounded, insert a neon test light into each outlet slot. The screw is grounded if the light glows when the faceplate screw is touched with the other probe.
If any appliance or device gives the user a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it and have a qualified person correct the problem. Under certain conditions, the slightest leak can become a fatal shock. Never insert a metal object into an appliance without unplugging it. Check the equipment periodically to spot cracked or worn insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective arts and any other components that might not work correctly. Have these appliances repaired at once by a professional.
OUTLETS AND EXTENSION CORDS
Farmers use outlets and extension cords every day. Make sure all outlets are 3 holes, grounded outlets with faceplates. If water is prevalent, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters should be installed. Actually outside all outlets should be GFCI's. Extension cords should be used only when necessary and should be kept out of heavy traffic. When finished, roll and hang cords up and do not leave on the floor.
Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. Electrocution can occur when objects people are using come in contact with overhead power lines. Keep grain augers, cranes, ladders, and antennas away from power lines. Do not erect fence wire along the same route as overhead lines or where it may spring against a power line.
Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed line, call the utility company and warn others to stay away.
We are good conductors of electricity, particularly if we should be standing in water or on a damp floor. Never touch an electric cord or appliance when your hands are wet or while standing on a wet floor. We should remain conscience of the damage electricity can cause us.
Excerpts; Univ. of Maine, Coop. Extension Service
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.