DETROIT - During the fall harvest season, DTE Energy reminds farmers to be aware of overhead power lines and underground utilities, whether working near the house or out in the field.

"It is essential to use extra care when operating large farm equipment near electrical lines and poles, and underground utility cables and pipelines," said Vince Dow, DTE Energy vice president of Distribution Operations. "If you are using equipment like elevated truck beds, raised conveyors or other large folding farm implements, it is critical to remember to take the time to survey the area, even if you are familiar with it, to be sure that it is free of potential hazards."

In addition to surveying the area for hazards, customers can avoid accidents and injury by following these safety tips:

* Be aware of the clearance your equipment needs when truck beds are elevated or harvester arms are fully extended or raised.

* Keep all equipment at least 20 feet away from overhead power lines, guy wires and utility poles.

* Report any activity that might have damaged or undermined the stability of a utility pole, including damaged guy wires or severe erosion.

* If your farm equipment has snagged an overhead power line, remain inside the equipment. If possible, try to drive the equipment away from the hazard. If you cannot drive it away, stay where you are and wait for rescue. Call or signal for someone to call 911 and your local electric company. Warn others to stay away.

* If you must get off the equipment because of fire or other danger, remember that your body should NEVER contact the ground and the metal equipment at the same time. Jump clear, then hop with feet together or shuffle away. Voltage is highest near the equipment and decreases with distance. Hopping with feet together or shuffling prevents your body from becoming a conductor of electricity from a high to low voltage area.

* Tires are not insulators. Although rubber is not a good conductor of electricity, metal, which also is found in tires, is. If a power line is in contact with your vehicle, electricity will travel through the metal skin and tires into the ground. If you touch both the vehicle and the ground at the same time, electricity will take the path of least resistance and travel through your body to the ground.

* Never touch a downed power line or anything it is in contact with -- even if there are no sparks. A live wire may whip or sweep through a wide area. A live wire also may lie still on the ground.

* To report equipment entangled in a power line, potential damage to a utility pole or any downed wire, or damage to an underground utility cable or pipe, DTE Energy customers should call (800) 477-4747.

* Always exercise caution when undertaking any task that requires digging. Before beginning excavation projects like tiling, terracing or fence post installation, call MISS DIG toll-free at 811 or (800) 484-7171 to avoid damaging underground utility cables and pipes.

Source:  DTE Energy