The cooperative is committed to achieving and maintaining the highest safety standards possible. As an organization we have a program that provides safety presentations to members and the general public. Our Member Services Department and some of the lineman conduct the 4-H Farm Safety Camp demonstration each summer which includes an interactive display. Whetstone Valley Electric also conducts public demonstrations in farm safety, electrical safety issues, and first responders safety.
All Whetstone Valley Electric employees devote constant personal attention and commitment to the safety of the public and the safety of their fellow workers by continuous safety training and 20 years of safety accreditation.
Plan on Safety While You Plant Your Seeds
Spring planting is upon us and your local Touchstone Energy Cooperative would like to remind local farmers to stay safe this season. Overhead power lines can be easily overlooked, and deadly if ignored. While you focus on putting those seeds in the ground, your local electric cooperative urges you to review these important tips.
Together, with the power of prevention, we are re-energizing farm safety.
Awareness doesn’t spread as fast as an electrical current, but a little goes a long way. Remember to look up and look out for power lines this planting season. Follow these Four S’s to Stay Safe
SPOTTER. Get a spotter to be sure your are staying at least 10 feet away from power lines on all side, keeping in mind that field cultivators and sprayers can reach as high as 12 feet.
STUDY. Educate yourself on any new equipment you may have purchased recently. New equipment has higher antennas and attachments than ever before. What cleared in previous years may not in your new ride. Know what you’re working with.
SAGGING. If you see a power line sagging on your property, contact your electric cooperative to fix it. That’s their job!
SEARCH. Sometimes trees or brush can make power lines difficult to see. Don’t just glance up, really take a minute to search your surroundings when moving equipment.
Hitting a power line can be scary. In certain situations, there may be a lot of noise, which will likely cause you to instinctively run—you’ve got seconds to understand what’s happening and respond appropriately. Do you know what to do if you come in contact with a power line?
STAY PUT. Unless there is a fire, you need to stay calm and stay in the vehicle. Touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time (i.e. stepping out of the equipment) can be deadly. Don’t risk becoming a conduit for the electricity to move from the vehicle to the ground through you, stay put. Even if it’s loud.
CALL FOR HELP. Call for help from the vehicle if possible. 911 is a good place to start, especially if you don’t know your local electric cooperative’s number. If you don’t have your phone, try radioing for help. If someone comes to assist you, they need to stay away from the vehicle until professional help has arrived.
JUMP CLEAR. If there is a fire forcing you to leave, or you have no way of calling for help, jump clear of the equipment. Jump with your feet together, as far away from the vehicle as possible. Be sure you are not touching the equipment and the ground at the same time. Then, shuffle (tiny, quick steps) away. The ground may be electrically charged in varying points surrounding the vehicle so quick, short steps are important.
Power Line Safety
Accidentally contacting a power line can be dangerous and in some cases, even deadly. Your Touchstone Energy cooperative wants to help our members stay safe around power lines. Always be aware of what's overhead and know what to do if your equipment contacts a power line. For more information go to http://www.poweringyoursafety.com/.
Keep a safe distance
Whether you are playing outdoors with your children or working on landscaping projects, keep a safe distance from power lines and other equipment your co-op uses to get electricity to your home.
Always remember to:
- Stay away from power lines, meters, transformers and electrical boxes.
- Don’t climb trees near power lines.
- Never fly kites, remote control airplanes or balloons near power lines.
- If you get something stuck in a power line, call your Touchstone Energy co-op to get it.
- Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas.
- Never touch or go near a downed power line.
- Don’t touch anything that may be touching a downed wire, such as a car.
- Keep children and pets away.
Power Line Hazards and Cars
If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This is the safest place to stay. Warn people not to touch the car or the line. Call or ask someone to call the local cooperative and emergency services.
The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving a car that is in contact with a downed power line is if the vehicle catches on fire. Open the door. Do not step out of the car. You may receive a shock. Instead, jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with both feet on the ground.
As in all power line related emergencies, call for help immediately by dialing 911 or call your electric utility company's Service Center/Dispatch Office.
Do not try to help someone else from the car while you are standing on the ground.
Electrical Safety and Generators
Preventing Electrocutions Associated with Portable Generators Plugged Into Household Circuits
When power lines are down, residents can restore energy to their homes or other structures by using another power source such as a portable generator. If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
If it is necessary to use a portable generator, manufacturer recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable generator, a qualified electrician should be immediately contacted to assist in installation and start-up activities. The generator should always be positioned outside the structure.
When using gasoline- and diesel-powered portable generators to supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the "off" position prior to starting the generator. This will prevent power lines from being inadvertently energized by backfeed electrical energy from the generators, and help protect utility line workers or other repair workers or people in neighboring buildings from possible electrocution. If the generator is plugged into a household circuit without turning the main breaker to the “off” position or removing the main fuse, the electrical current could reverse, go back through the circuit to the outside power grid, and energize power lines or electrical systems in other buildings to at or near their original voltage without the knowledge of utility or other workers.
Effects of Backfeed
The problem of backfeed in electrical energy is a potential risk for electrical energy workers. Electrocutions are the fifth leading cause of all reported occupational deaths. Following the safety guidelines below can reduce this risk.
Other Generator Hazards
Generator use is also a major cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Generators should only be used in well ventilated areas.