2 steps to safe digging

April 2017 marks 10th anniversary of National Safe Digging Month

Building a deck? Planting a tree? Installing a fence or mailbox?

Heartland and Common Ground Alliance remind you of two simple steps you should take BEFORE you begin your digging project:

  1. Call 811 a few days before you dig.

  2. Wait for utility marks.

It’s that easy! Calling 811 before you start any digging project is simple and free, and can help you avoid injury, expense, embarrassment and inconvenience.

How it Works

There are millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of the earth that are vital to everyday living including water, electricity and natural gas. 811 is the federally designated “Call Before You Dig” number that helps homeowners and professionals avoid damaging these vital utilities.

When you make the FREE call to 811 a few days before you dig, you’ll help prevent unintended consequences such as injury to you or your family, damage to your property, utility service outages to the entire neighborhood and potential fines and repair costs.

Call 811 from anywhere in the country and you will be routed to your local one call center. Tell the operator where you’re planning to dig and your local affected utility companies will be notified as well. They will send locators to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.

Most locate crews arrive within a few days. Once the lines are marked, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work!

Make sure to dig carefully around the marks, not on them. Remember the depths of utility lines will vary.

Why it’s Important

Every 6 minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Damage to utility lines can lead to service disruptions, serious injuries and costly repairs.

Making a call to 811 is the easiest way to make sure you and your communities are safe and connected.

Promote 811 in Your Community

Awareness of the critical 811 service continues to grow, and you or your organization can help! Protect yourself, your community and your business by letting your neighbors or customers know about the importance of calling 811 before digging.

Visit call811.com for promotional materials, such as logos, handouts, facts and videos.

Kids love learning about 811 too, and Call 811 has a special section dedicated to educating future excavators with videos and curriculum materials.

2017 marks the tenth anniversary of National Safe Digging Month. As you promote the 811 message this April, join the celebration by using the tenth anniversary edition 811 logos on your communications.

Spring into Safe Digging Month

In South Dakota, spring is the season to welcome warmer weather and longer days. For many, it’s also the time to begin projects to spruce up outdoor spaces. With spring in full swing, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and the South Dakota One Call Board remind residents to contact South Dakota 811 a few days before beginning any digging project and request that underground utilities be marked.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has emphasized the importance of this step to South Dakotans by proclaiming April to be Safe Digging month. South Dakota law requires excavators and homeowners to contact South Dakota 811 at least two working days before beginning a digging project. Whether you’re building a house, putting up a fence or preparing a new garden, notifying South Dakota 811 is an important step to ensure your safety.

“With any outdoor construction project, contacting 811 is a simple and essential first step,” said PUC Chairman Chris Nelson. “A simple phone call can help prevent injuries, property damage and interruptions to the utility services that we all depend on.”

Uneven surfaces, erosion and previous digging projects can all cause the depths of utility lines to vary and change over time, enhancing the risk of hitting an underground utility. For this reason, every digging project warrants a call to 811. The only exceptions are gardening up to 12 inches deep and field tillage up to 18 inches deep. Striking even a single line can result in injury and utility outages, as well as some expenses in the form of repair costs and fines.

The South Dakota 811 center received a total of 142,100 requests to locate utility lines in 2015. As a result, 808,693 locate tickets were dispatched to utility companies across the state.  With an increase of more than 8,100 requests from 2014, more South Dakotans are utilizing the South Dakota 811 program than ever before.

“Our main goal is to ensure the safety of South Dakota residents. Following the South Dakota 811 process is a very simple and effective way to reach that goal,” said South Dakota One Call Board President Dan Kaiser, CenturyLink senior manager from Sioux Falls. “Call before you dig, be mindful of the marks and dig with care.”

South Dakota 811 is a free service. Homeowners and excavators with upcoming, outdoor construction projects must contact the South Dakota 811 center 48 hours before digging, excluding weekends and holidays. The center will then quickly notify all affected utility companies of your upcoming excavation plans and utility companies will dispatch crews to mark the underground lines at the respective dig site. Excavators should carefully plan their digging projects to ensure adequate time for notification to South Dakota 811 as part of their schedule.

In previous years, South Dakota 811 was available through the phone or web. To make the process as simple as possible, there are now more notification options. The South Dakota 811 mobile app allows you to quickly and conveniently complete the 811 form wherever you are. The South Dakota Homeowner Portal, accessible from www.SD811.com, enables online locate requests.

To learn more about 811 and safe digging practices and to download the free South Dakota 811 mobile app, visit www.SD811.com.

April proclaimed Safe Digging Month

With warm weather and spring projects just around the corner, April is the perfect time to remind residents to call 811 prior to beginning any digging project. Calling 811 can protect lives and critical underground utilities.

Utility services such as gas, electricity, water and telephone are vital infrastructure within a community. When an excavator strikes one of these lines, the result may lead to significant disruption of services, or worse yet, harm to themself or others. Additionally, they may be held financially responsible for any damage caused. Those who call 811 prior to starting a project can significantly reduce these occurrences. “

It is easy to forget that many of the essentials to our daily living are buried beneath our feet,” said Heartland Customer Relations & Marketing Manager Steve Moses. “Electricity, natural gas, communication lines and water and sewer services could be interrupted if someone decides to dig without first having the appropriate individuals mark their yard. The process is easy, fast and free.”

811A call to 811 is required at least 48 hours to all digging projects, no matter the size. The possibility of striking underground utilities exists even with smaller activities such as building a patio or deck, or installing a fence or mailbox post.

“The depth of each buried line varies. The risk of striking a line or pipe exists even a few inches below the ground,” South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Nelson said. “It’s imperative that homeowners and professional excavators take time to have all underground utilities located and marked before breaking ground.”

South Dakota residents can visit SDOneCall.com for more information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process. Iowans should visit iowaonecall.com. In Minnesota, gopherstateonecall.org provides all the necessary information for excavators, utilities and homeowners.

The 811 number is a national “Call Before You Dig” phone number designated by the FCC to eliminate the confusion of multiple numbers across the U.S. The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is the leading association created specifically to work with all industry stakeholders in an effort to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure and ensure public safety and environmental protection. Along with the 811 phone number, CGA and its 1,400 members and sponsors launched the national “Call Before You Dig” campaign to increase public awareness about the importance of using 811, having utility lines marked before digging, and protecting America’s vast underground infrastructure of pipelines, conduits, wires and cables. For more information on the national “Call Before You Dig” campaign or the CGA, visit call811.com.