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By Scott Meinecke

Spring is in full swing, and there are several safety precautions to be mindful of this season:

Call before you dig

April is National Safe Digging Month for a reason! Many of us will be working on landscaping and home improvement projects. Remember to contact Iowa One Call at least two business days before you dig to any depth so underground utilities can be properly located and marked. It’s the law, and it could save your life or prevent serious damage. Before you dig, call Iowa One Call at 8-1-1 or visit to process your request.

Move over or slow down on the road

We need your help in keeping our lineworkers, engineers and maintenance workers safe on Iowa’s roadways. If you see any vehicle stopped on the side of the road with flashing lights activated, you are required by law to move over or slow down, preferably both. Please give our employees room on the road; their families thank you!

Kids at play

Talk to your children about the dangers of electricity and to stay away from power lines, utility poles and pad-mounted transformers. Keep kites, balloons and flying toys away from electric equipment and always assume power lines are energized and dangerous. Never use electricity near pools or water without using ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets.

When thunder roars, go indoors

Storm season has returned and there is no safe place from lightning when you’re outside. Be aware of weather forecasts and watch for developing thunderstorms as lightning can strike many miles ahead of a storm front. If you hear thunder, seek shelter immediately because it indicates lightning is within 10 miles of you. Safe shelters include inside a building or in an enclosed metal-topped vehicle. Authorities warn against outdoor activity until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard.

Safety in the field

As you head into the fields to plant, keep a 10-foot clearance between your equipment and power lines at all times. Take time to study where all overhead power lines, poles and guy wires are located on your property and inform your workers about them. Plan your route between fields and on public roads so that you avoid low-hanging power lines; never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. When moving large equipment or high loads near a power line, always use a spotter to help make certain that contact is not made with a line. 

If equipment comes into contact with a power line, assume the line is energized and deadly. The operator should NOT get off the machinery unless in immediate danger. If the operator touches the ground and the equipment at the same time, they will become a channel for electricity. Instead, the operator should stay on the equipment and contact the local electric utility or 911 immediately to report the incident so power lines can be deenergized safely before exiting.   

Scott Meinecke is the director of safety and loss control for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

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