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Electrical Safety Basics

barn and siloMost electrical safety rules are common sense; but when you're working around the farm, it's easy to get caught up in a task or distracted by an outside disturbance.

Take a moment to review these guidelines, and keep them in mind whenever you're working around electricity.

  • DO keep all electrical devices, including extension cords, away from animals, water or damp areas.
  • DO keep all power tools, motors and other electrical equipment in good repair.
  • DO check equipment, cords and plugs frequently for signs of fraying, cracking or scorching.
  • DO keep all cords neatly secured and out of traffic areas.
  • DO tag the fuse or breaker switch if you need to turn off the power, so no one else turns it on while you're working.
  • DO call before you dig. Just dial your state's “One Call” or Digger's Hotline service at least three days before you start to dig to have underground service lines marked.
    • In Iowa, contact Iowa One-Call at 1-800-292-8989
    • In Wisconsin, contact Digger's Hotline at 1-800-242-8511
  • DO look up for overhead electrical lines when moving tall equipment.
  • DO apply "Look Up" safety decals to augers and other tall equipment.
  • DO use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles on all outlets that are outside or near water sources. If there is any variation in the current, the GFCI will automatically cut the flow of electricity through the circuit, greatly reducing the severity of the shock.
  • DO familiarize yourself with the location of all overhead and underground power lines, utility equipment such as meters and transformers, and the service panel at each of your buildings.
  • DON'T cut off the third grounding prong on a plug. The grounding conductor acts as a protection between electrical wire and people or animals near the wire.
  • DON'T use extension cords, power strips, outlet extenders or “cheater” adapter plugs as permanent fixtures. These devices are designed only for temporary use and can overheat or overload a circuit, risking an electrical fire.
  • DON'T oversize fuses. Circuits are designed for a given amount of current only.


Download the “Electrical Safety on Your Farm” brochure [PDF]

Download the Farm Electrical Safety Checklist [PDF]