2011-04-09 / News

Call 8-1-1 before you dig

By David L. Potter, President/ CEO of The Energy Cooperative

NEWARK – With spring weather nearly here many of us may be planning landscape projects or perhaps adding a new deck to the house. With that comes lots of tree planting and post-hole digging.

April is National Safe Digging Month, which serves as a good reminder to everyone to call the Ohio Utility Protection Service (OUPS) by simply dialing 811 or 1-800-362-2764 a few days before digging to identify the approximate location of underground utility lines. Failure to call before digging results in more than 50 unintentional hits annually to our underground gas lines and over a dozen to our underground electric lines, and we at The Energy Cooperative do not want anyone to become part of the statistics.

Utility services that your family depends on, such as gas, electric, cable TV, high-speed Internet, landline telephone, water and sewer are buried underground in many communities. Striking one of these lines can result in harm to yourself or someone else, inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, and repair costs.

When you call 811 a few days before you plan to start your project, a local one-call center representative will collect your information and notify the affected local utility companies of your intent to dig if lines are located in your area. A professional locator will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of all underground utility lines with paint, flags or both. Once your site has been marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.

Another safety reminder when planting trees or building new structures is to LOOK UP to ensure no overhead power lines will be obstructed by future growth of your tree or the structure you plan to build. Be sure to maintain at least a 20 foot distance for small trees and a 40 foot distance for large trees away from the power lines. Tree limbs crossing power lines can cause outages and injuries.

No matter the type of project - installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, planting trees or shrubbery, building a patio or deck, or excavating a new garden area - make sure to call 811 several days prior to digging to have your site properly marked. Remind any contractors or handy-men that you hire as well as your friends and family to do the same. Always call 811 before you dig and know what’s below.

For more information about the Ohio Utility Protection Service’s 811 program or to find proper tree planting distance from overhead and underground power lines, please visit our Web site at www.theenergycoop.com.

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