RAPID CITY, SD – April 6, 2021 — April is National Safe Digging Month, and with the arrival of warmer weather, homeowners and construction crews will be anxious to get outside and begin new projects. Black Hills Energy offers the following check list of things to do before digging, in order to get the job off to a safe start.
Remember to check all the boxes below for a safe digging project.
Call or Click Before You Dig. Whether you’re a homeowner planting a shrub, or a contractor using a backhoe, always “Call Before You Dig” at least two full business days in advance to have utility lines marked. You can call 811 toll-free, schedule online at: www.SD811.com or download the South Dakota 811 App. It’s free, it’s safe and it’s the law.
After you call, utility specialists will respond within two days to mark the approximate location of buried utility lines at your site with color-coded paint or flags – at no charge to you. Yellow, for example, marks gas lines and red marks electric lines.
Mark Your Planned Excavation Site. Spray paint a white line, or place white flags, around your planned excavation site before you call. “White-lining” helps the line locator understand your plans and reduces the chance for project delays if the line locator must return to mark additional areas.
Respect the Marks. Always carefully hand-dig with a shovel near any utility facilities as opposed to using heavy equipment. Use extreme care around all utility lines. Just a nick can create a weak spot that may develop into a gas leak, cause an electrical or internet outage, or result in injury.
Don’t Rely on Old Line Locate Marks. Project delays? If you don’t dig within 14 business days of having lines marked, contact Nebraska 811 again. At no charge, line locators will gladly return to re-mark the lines as quickly as possible. Underground conditions can change, so never rely on outdated information.
“Public safety, the welfare of excavator work crews, and the safety of our employees are our primary concerns,” said Marc Eyre, vice president of operations for Black Hills Energy in South Dakota. “Whether your project is big or small, make sure you have all of your boxes checked. Safe digging practices are critical to avoiding an incident that could become a tragedy.”
Failure to comply with “Call Before You Dig” laws can result in civil penalties or the cost of expensive repairs to utilities and private property. More importantly, remember that hitting an underground utility line can cause widespread service outages, injury or death.
In addition to underground line safety, the public should also be aware of potential shock hazards associated with electrical distribution equipment. It is important to follow safety signs, keep away from electrical transmission and distribution power lines, look up when working near lines, and call 811 before digging.
Visit the Black Hills Energy’s Facebook page to learn how you can enter the Black Hills Energy Safe Digging Month sweepstakes beginning April 5, 2021 with the winner being announced on April 9. This year’s prize is an outdoor patio fire table!