Be mindful of electrical safety on your farm
By JENNY RHODES
(Editor’s note: Jenny Rhodes is a University of Maryland Extension Educator in Queen Anne’s County.)
(May 2016) — All electrical systems have the potential to cause harm.
The voltage of the electricity and the available electrical current in our homes or in our farm buildings has enough power to cause death by electrocution.
Even changing a light bulb can be hazardous because coming in contact with the “hot” or “live” part of the socket could kill a person.
A very special person’s life was taken on April 14 by electrocution in his poultry house.
Bill Brown was a true leader in our agriculture community and a wonderful friend. He was an astonishing poultry Extension agent, he loved his family, his job, his faith and his friends.
I enjoyed teaching poultry Extension programs with him. Bill was passionate about everything he did.
He would always stop what he was doing to help anyone whether it is was a farmer, a neighbor or someone in his community. I will miss the phone calls and the long conversations about chickens and our industry.
Our hearts are very heavy, but we all know that Bill would want to make sure we all learn from this tragedy.
That is why I am writing this article and fact sheets and hosting educational programs on farm electrical safety.
We are all very busy on our farms and with life in general.
Please take time to walk around your poultry houses.
Inspect all electrical cords for:
• Cracks, chafed areas, breaks
• Wire cover pulled from plug
• Plug pulled from casing and insulation
• No electrical cords should touch the ground
• No electrical cords should be wrapped around anything
• Make sure they are all free hanging and won’t get caught in anything.
• Place cords on string pulleys, so they will raise your equipment if raised
• Check unused equipment, is it un plugged
• Are there covers on all electrical boxes?
• Is the breaker panel free of dust, enclosed, and door shut?
• Never use an extension cord to run permanent equipment.
When doing any electrical repair, always make sure to wear protective clothing, have the proper tools and equipment for the electrical needs.
When inspecting or repairing anything electrical, the following are a must:
• Turn off breakers
• Use a Voltage Sensing Pin to test to make sure there is no live current. A local electrician recommends the Fluke 1LAC II A VoltAlert™ Electrical Tester or the Klein Tools NCVT-2 Dual Range Voltage Tester.
• Wear rubber boots to insulate your feet.
• Wear leather gloves.
The cost of the Voltage Sensing Pins ranges from $18 to $25. Check the electrical ground on your poultry houses.
Always check after someone else, other than yourself, has been working in your chicken houses.
For example after crusting or windrowing, chickens have been caught, chicks delivery, complete litter clean out, etc.
Have you taken a look in your generator building lately? Check your battery charger, breakers and dust in your panel boxes.
This is just the beginning of a few things you can do to protect yourself.
The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and the University of Maryland Extension will be hosting an educational electrical safety meeting in mid-May at the Carvel Research & Education Center in Georgetown, Del.
We will be developing several electrical facts sheets on what should be inspected after each flock, yearly, and every five years.