Even though some irrigation systems are stationary this time of year, it’s never too early to talk about safety. Water and electricity are a dangerous mix. Electricity follows the shortest path to the ground and can flow through any conductive material, such as water or metal. Never allow irrigation water nozzles to spray on power lines. A water stream hitting a power line could energize the entire system, creating a shock hazard to anyone nearby or in contact with the equipment.
Survey your surroundings before moving equipment. Look up and around you, noting any power lines that could come into contact with equipment. Any contact with electrical lines could be fatal or cause serious injury.
To ensure safe operation of irrigation equipment, follow these tips from www.SafeElectricity.com:
- Make sure that irrigation system wiring is properly grounded. Before the start of each irrigation season, have a qualified electrician check the pump and wiring.
- Store unused irrigation pipes far away from power lines or electrical equipment.
- Position irrigation pipes at least 15' away from any power lines.
- Position the water jet streams so that there is no chance of them spraying onto power lines—if this happens, the entire system could become energized, creating a danger for anyone nearby.
- Stay away from the piping if it is lightning. Install lightning arresters to protect your equipment.
- If fuses continually blow or circuit breakers repeatedly trip, have a professional check the wiring. This could indicate a potential electrical hazard.
- Always shut off and lock the master electrical control switch before servicing the machine.
- Avoid moving irrigation equipment on windy days when pipes could be blown into nearby power lines.
- Keep pipes horizontal to the ground rather than vertical to minimize the risk of contact with power lines.
- If an irrigation pipe comes in contact with a power line, never try to remove it yourself. Stay away from it and call your local electric utility for help.
- November 2011