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Illinois Country Living

Ken Macken
Ken Macken,
Manager of Safety and Loss Control

Safety & Health:

Warm Weather Hazards
Don’t Turn Summer into a Bummer

I’m ready for spring and summer! It seems like this winter has stretched on for a long time! As I drive all over this great state of Illinois presenting safety meetings at our electric cooperatives, I am reminded every trip that winter is giving way to spring and then summer.

With warmer summer weather comes great summer fun outdoors. Spring and summer can be such a great time of outdoor fun with friends and family, but it also creates situations that can lead to unseen dangers.

As I was preparing to write this, my mind flooded with people and stories from the past that had a summer turned into a bummer because of unsafe acts and accidents.

When I was younger, I remember a young man who was not aware of a low-hanging power line that storm damage took down. He was out hunting and carried his gun over his shoulder. Unaware of the power lines just over his head, the tip of his gun came into contact with those energized power lines. We’ve all heard that electricity will always look for a way to the ground and that’s exactly what happened to this young man. That electricity traveled through that gun and electrocuted him on its way to the ground.

In this article I want to list a few reminders to keep your summer from turning into a bummer.

Always be aware of electrical lines around you. In the story above, this young man had no idea that he was walking into a trap. After a storm, be aware that energized lines may be down, and though they may not be doing anything, they may still be energized. Don’t go around them, and call your electric provider immediately.

Trees provide another great opportunity for fun as children, including my son, have a hard time passing up a great climbing tree. However, we all need to be very careful in and around trees as power lines may be running right through the tops of our favorite tree. We have probably all heard stories of people who have gotten into energized lines by simply raising up and making contact with that line. Remember: Power lines don’t have to be doing anything to be energized and they will use the human body to find a path to the ground.

Last summer my family and I put in an above-ground swimming pool, and is it ever fun! Pools are a great source of fun, but can also be a source of danger. I was traveling one time and noticed an above ground pool and there was a power line right above the pool. Can you imagine if the owner was using his long skimmer pole and accidentally made contact with that power line? Wow! That would definitely be a summer bummer! If your plans this summer include putting in a pool, take the time to completely and safely plan out your install to prevent you and others from being in harms way with the electricity.

The last thing I would like to mention is a safety warning again to all the farmers out there. With spring and summer comes planting and working in, and around, those fields. With equipment getting taller and larger, the danger to put an auger or truck bed right up into those lines is ever present. Always be aware of overhead lines when preparing to dump grain around those storage bins. I will not soon forget that last year we had a gentleman in Illinois that lifted his grain truck up, made contact with energized power lines, then leaned up against his truck and was electrocuted! What happened? The electricity was making its way to ground and this worker became the path it followed. This is a fact about electricity we should never forget!

So from this writer to each of you, have a wonderful summer!


For More Information:

Ken Macken is Manager of Safety and Loss Control for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, 217-241-7933.


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Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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