PEORIA, Ill. — Using a proximity alarm when working near a high-voltage power line can save a farmer’s life.
“Agriculture is one of the most dangerous professions and electrocution from high-voltage power lines is among the top five causes of death and injury for agricultural workers,” said Mark McLaren, with ShockAvoid.
McLaren, who was raised on a farm near Henry, Illinois, has worked in the agricultural industry his entire career. “What really got me into this was in 2018 I learned about a bad accident,” he recalled. “I decided we’ve got to do something about this.”
After doing some research, McLaren found proven systems that are used in the electric transmission and construction businesses. “They alert operators when they get too close to high-tension wires,” he said.
Sigalarm is a proximity alarm farmers can install on their equipment. “You can put it in the cab of combine, sprayer or tractor,” McLaren explained.
Two models of the Sigalarm are available — a wireless version and a wired unit.
“The wireless version will support up to six remote sensors which are solar powered,” he noted. “The sensors are mounted at the highest points of the equipment and when you get too close to the high-tension lines, it gives a warning and then goes into emergency mode with sirens and flashing lights so the operator and those around the equipment know it’s way too close or already touching a high tensile wire.”
For the wired Sigalarm, wires run from the unit in the cab of the machine to the end of the sprayer boom or to the top of the combine. “When you get too close to a hot wire, the unit sounds an alarm,” McLaren said. “The horn attaches on the outside of the equipment so people outside don’t touch the equipment.”
McLaren knew it was important to make the Sigalarm easy to install. “If we made it too difficult to install, it was not going to work,” he stressed. “It takes about 1.5 hours to install on a sprayer and it’s also simple to calibrate.”
Another option from ShockAvoid is the Safeguard Compass, a personal voltage detector that simply clips on the bill of a cap. “As you approach a piece of equipment that has made contact or is too close to a tension line, the cap will alert you with a light,” McLaren explained.
“The output is simple to understand,” he said. “As long as the light is green, you’re good, if it’s yellow be looking and when it’s red, stop — it’s pretty straightforward.”
“Our goal is to save lives, save farms and save businesses,” McLaren stressed.
“Our products give extra seconds or extra feet of advanced warning,” he noted. “With the extra time, farmers can react, avoid, stop, backup or do whatever is needed and if we can get 10 or 20 extra seconds, that’s a big deal.”
For more information about ShockAvoid, call 309-264-8118 or go to www.shockavoid.com.