SUMMER’S HERE, DON’T GO DRY

Summer is rolling on through South Dakota.

An Associated Press report says that just about all of the state’s corn and soybean crop is seeded in the ground, and just about all of the spring wheat crop is up.

You can read the entire article here.

Mix in some nice rains, some generous sunshine, and we should see a pretty good crop this year.

But what if there isn’t that much rain?  Crops will depend on water that’s piped in underground.  And that means this is as good a time as any to send out a few reminders from South Dakota 811.

First, any person owning or operating underground facilities, including propane, water, communications, electrical, drain tile, a farm tap distribution system, or any other buried facility which serves third parties or which crosses a property line or is located in a public highway shall register with the one call notification system as an operator pursuant to chapter 49-7A-1 (See Paragraphs (8), (9), and (10).)

Click HERE to register your farm tap with the South Dakota One Call Center.

Do you own drain tile, irrigation lines, buried power or any other buried services that enter the public right of way? Did you know that it is a legal requirement to register those buried facilities with South Dakota One Call? Are you aware of how low the cost is to protect your investment?

Registration is easy. Simply email MemberServices@sd811.com to begin the discussion about becoming a member of South Dakota One Call. Once you are a member you will be notified each time someone calls the South Dakota 811 Center about working near your buried lines. This will give you a chance to mark and protect those facilities to avoid damage by excavators working in the area. There is a one-time $35 sign-up fee, no matter how many lines you have or how much property you own. You will be charged only about $1 each time you’re notified by email that someone plans to dig near your property.

Finally, some underground lines on your property may not be owned by the utility and may not be located by them, such as lines that run from the meter to the house or lines between buildings.  These types of services can include water, electrical, communications, gas, etc..  These are considered “privately owned” facilities, in which case the utility has no record of the buried lines, and consequently they are not registered with the South Dakota 811 Center.  In these cases the utility may agree to locate them at your request for a fee, or you may have to hire an electrician, plumber or other independent locating company to mark those lines.

Let’s have a bountiful fall harvest, South Dakota!   And remember, South Dakota 811 is here to help you, 24/7/365.

Until next week, safe digging!

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EVERY MONTH IS SAFETY MONTH

Did you know that June is National Safety Month?  As far as we’re concerned at South Dakota 811, every month is National Safety Month. Our goal is damage prevention and making sure everyone goes home safe at the end of a day of construction and excavating around South Dakota’s buried infrastructure of utilities.

It’s easy enough to do by reaching us at 811.  Reaching our one-call center that’s open 24/7/365 is as easy as dialing those three numbers.  Or reaching us online here.  Either way, it’s easy, free, and the law.

We can’t emphasize enough that a call to 811 to get buried infrastructure located and marked prior to a dig reduces the chances of an incident to less than one percent.

While we’re primarily concerned with what’s below ground, we also are fierce believers in safety above ground, too.

Here’s what the National Safety Council (NSC) has to say about National Safety Month.

“Observed annually in June, National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities…NSC remains focused on saving lives and preventing injuries, including raising public awareness of the opioid epidemic, helping to reduce motor vehicle crashes and improving safety practices in workplaces all across the country.”

Maybe you think being safe is expensive.  We’d gently remind you that our 811 service is free – and the NSC provides free resources to you as well.

Go to the NSC website, then look for the link that says “Get Your National Safety Month Materials.”

You’ll find a bonanza of safety tips in both English and Spanish, as well as information-packed articles and a graphic you are free to use on your own social media sites.

Of course, there’s much more than that, so go and explore!

And, oh, yes, please remember to call us at South Dakota 811 before you dig.

Until next week, safe digging!

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PUTTING IT TOGETHER FOR YOU

Do you ever consider how many moving parts it takes to make an automobile engine work?

My father, brother and I disassembled two junked old Chevrolet Corvair engines and built one good one out of the parts years and years ago.  (Never heard of the air cooled Corvair?  Go here.)

Doing a job like that requires you to concentrate.  A lot.

That got me thinking about the 811 system.  Contractors, excavators and others who regularly use the system may not put a lot of concentration into how easily it works.  One locate request, made for free, provides underground utility locators who come out and mark the utilities buried in the immediate vicinity of your dig – also for free.  It works so well because of our members.  They range from the big down to the small, but they all have one common goal.

Protecting our South Dakota underground infrastructure.

Getting back to those Corvair engines, we had to clean and examine every single part before re-using it. It was very time consuming and at times maddening.

That’s kind of the way it was before the one-call system came into being.  An excavator had to call, individually, every utility he could think of that might be where he was planning to dig.   The effort took a lot of time, cost a lot of frustration, and may not have been all together accurate.

Now, one call truly does it all.   Calling South Dakota 811 before you dig brings into play a small army of underground utility locators, resulting in the multi-colored marker flags and spray paint lines we’re so familiar with today.

Making the call to 811 also reduces your chances of an incident to less than one percent.  You won’t get better odds than that anywhere in the world!

At South Dakota 811, we’re open for your locate requests 24/7/365.  You can always speak with a live agent, or if you prefer, enter your requests on line.

Make the call to 811. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s free, and it’s the law.

And it’s much easier than building your own car engine from a pair of junkers!

Until next week, safe digging!

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KEEPING YOUR COOL IN A SOUTH DAKOTA SUMMER

All of us at South Dakota 811 hope you’re having a great Memorial Day holiday.  Of course, all good things must come to an end, and that means back to work tomorrow.  If you’re one of the many people who make your living outdoors through excavation, contracting, or other related work, keep an eye on the sky.

Because it’s summer in South Dakota – and as we all know, that could mean anything.  While freak snowstorms are generally out of the question, we will be getting our share of heat.

Outside heat falls into three categories:  Heat, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

To protect against heat:

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.  REMEMBER YOUR HARD HAT!!!!!
  • Protect against sunburn –  dermatologists recommend a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30.  More is always better!
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water is best.  Avoid caffeinated products.
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day.

These are warning signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Fatigue, weakness, dizzy or nauseous
  • Sweating profusely, rapid pulse, fast shallow breathing
  • Muscle weakness or cramps

If you or a co-worker experience any of these symptoms, get out of the heat quickly and rest in a cool, shady place. Drink plenty of water or other fluids containing sugar and salt. Do NOT drink alcohol or caffeine.  If you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, get help. If heat exhaustion isn’t treated, it can progress to heat stroke.

If any of these heat stroke warning signs are present, seek medical treatment immediately.

  • Skin that feels hot and dry, but not sweaty
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness; throbbing headache
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

Move the victim to a cooler location, remove heavy clothing, fan the body and wet it down with a cool sponge or cloth, and encourage the individual to drink cool fluids.

Remember, heat stroke can be deadly.

Don’t forget your sunglasses!

Until next week, safe digging!

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SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Signs come in many shapes and sizes, and all of them are designed to get your attention.  Take for example this piece of art work, cobbled together for use in South Dakota to warn motorists to slow down in highway work zones:

That’s pretty memorable!   While Mr. Road Cone man may give you a smile, there are other signs you need to pay attention to as well, like these:

Caution – danger – call 811 before you dig.   At South Dakota 811, we’re in the damage prevention business.   That means for underground utilities, and for you. ANYTIME you are going to dig in our state, make the free call to 811 to get underground utility locators out to your work area to flag the location of buried infrastructure.  It’s a free call and a free service.

Making that 811 request before you dig reduces your chances of hitting something to less than one percent – and that’s important enough for its own sign!

Until next week, safe digging!

 

 

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SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Signs come in many shapes and sizes, and all of them are designed to get your attention.  Take for example this piece of art work, cobbled together for use in South Dakota to warn motorists to slow down in highway work zones:

That’s pretty memorable!   While Mr. Road Cone man may give you a smile, there are other signs you need to pay attention to as well, like these:

 

Caution – danger – call 811 before you dig.   At South Dakota 811, we’re in the damage prevention business.   That means for underground utilities, and for you.  ANYTIME you are going to dig in our state, make the free call to 811 to get underground utility locators out to your work area to flag the location of buried infrastructure.  It’s a free call and a free service.

Making that 811 request before you dig reduces your chances of hitting something to less than one percent – and that’s important enough for its own sign!

Until next week, safe digging!

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WHY ARE THOSE FLAGS IN THE GROUND?

Let’s say you’re a homeowner, and you come back to the house one day after work and find a line of little colored flags or marker paint marching through your yard.  What happened while you were away?

  1. Utility work is going to be done and someone called 811 to get underground lines located
  2. Captain Jack Sparrow and his scurvy pirate crew know where to dig for treasure
  3. Some kids pulled flags out of the ground elsewhere and are pranking you

Unless you live on a Caribbean beach it’s not Captain Jack Sparrow, and we’ll CERTAINLY hope it’s not kids pulling flags out of the ground elsewhere.

So, the correct answer is A – utility locators have been at work near your home.  But, you say, I didn’t call 811.   No, you didn’t.  An excavator preparing to do work on underground utilities near your home made the free call to 811 to take advantage of the free utility locating service.   The marker flags you see will generally be within an easement or right-of-way adjoining your property.

Locators are usually only concerned with finding utility-owned transmission lines and pipes; these will run to the gas meter, water meter, etc. that supplies your house.  The line that leaves the other side of the meter and goes into or under your house is YOUR line.   In most cases, your gas or other meter may be right next to your house; so, the utility line running beneath your yard all the way to the meter on your house belongs to the utility.  On the other hand, maybe your gas meter is inside of a detached garage, in which case you may have a lengthy run of gas supply line going to your house that belongs to you.  Regardless of when or where the line leaves the meter to service your house, at that moment it is your line and responsibility. So, our hypothetical flags are NOT marking any of your “personal” lines.  This is going to be utility-side work.

We’ll talk about locating your own underground utility lines next time.

In the meantime – millions of Americans saw the national call before you dig number compete in the ‘fastest two minutes in sports’ as the “Call 811” message was emblazoned on jockeys Victor Espinoza, Drayden Van Dyke and Jose Lezcano.

We’re proud of the Common Ground Alliance sponsors whose support of the Kentucky Derby put 811 in front of an estimated viewing audience of at least 15 million people and millions more in pre- and post-race media coverage.

Until next week, safe digging!

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THE TOLERANCE ZONE

“The Tolerance Zone.”  It might sound like The Twilight Zone, a classic TV series hosted by Rod Serling, or The Phantom Zone, an interdimensional prison seen in Superman comic books.

Actually, it’s neither.

The Tolerance Zone shows up once you’ve made the free call to 811 to get underground utilities flagged in your work area.  When those small multi-colored flags are in the ground, or painted marks are on the ground, the Tolerance Zone appears as if by magic.   Well, ok, you have to imagine it, but it’s there.

The Tolerance Zone refers to the amount of space parallel and directly next to the underground utility.

Here’s a diagram.

In the state of South Dakota, and in this diagram, the Tolerance Zone is 18 inches on either side of the outside edge of the underground pipeline on a horizontal plane.

The Tolerance Zone is there as an added protection to buried utilities.

Digging methodsto consider in the Tolerance Zone other than careful hand digging include   pot holing, soft digging and vacuum excavation methods.

No matter how you uncover what’s below, ALWAYS verify the location of a buried utility by sight before using ANY power or mechanical equipment within the Tolerance Zone.

Until next week, safe digging!

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SPRING IS HERE, SOUTH DAKOTA! (stop laughing, we’re serious!)

Believe it or not, fellow South Dakotans, the snow and cold weather WILL go away.  (Yeah, you say, and the Titanic will dock in New York!)

It’s time to start thinking DIY, plowing, construction and other chores, and that means it’s time to start thinking South Dakota 811.

As you start your cleanup from winter, don’t forget that any below ground digging requires a free call to 811 to get underground utilities and infrastructure located for free by your friendly utility locators.

Don’t rely on your memory from last spring when you laid down a pipeline or other item.  The ground can shift, and believe me, the older you get, the more your memory can shift too!

While it’s not yet seed planting time, you can go ahead and get ready for that event by calling 811 to get ahead of the game.  (For the record, the last frost is usually around May 15; you can get much more on the topic here: http://www.keloland.com/news/article/featured-stories/how-to-prepare-your-yard-for-warmer-weather)

Remember, it takes 48 hours to get lines marked from the time your dig ticket is issued by South Dakota 811. Weekends and holidays are excluded here; if you want to dig on Monday at 8 am, you need to call in your free locate request on Thursday at 8 am.  A call Monday at 2pm means lines should be spray painted or flagged by 2pm on Wednesday.

Making the call to South Dakota 811 to get utilities marked cuts the risk of a hit or a cut to about one percent.

When the flags or spray paint shows up on your dig site, remember the color code:

While all of these colors are important – and remember, they may also be shown as spray painted lines or messages – the red, yellow and orange flags should be flashing neon. Electric, gas, and telecom cables and pipelines are extremely hazardous.  Electric and gas should be pretty self-explanatory for danger. Fiber optic lines are made of glass products, and when broken can splinter into very tiny pieces that can pierce your skin and work themselves in deep; worse, you could unwittingly ingest a tiny shard without thinking by wiping your work glove across your mouth or get it into your eyes.

The flags do not indicate the depth of the line that’s buried beneath them.  They are simply guideposts telling you the approximate location of buried infrastructure. To find the buried utility, you must follow the rules of the tolerance zone.   We’ll tackle that subject next week!

Until next week, safe digging!

 

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SOUTH DAKOTA 811 AIDS YOUR COMMUTE

It’s spring time, the sun is finally coming out, and the crack of the bat with the Sioux Falls Canaries isn’t far away!

Another reminder of the change in the weather are the orange cones sprouting like mushrooms along the Sioux Falls East Arrowhead Parkway construction zone in a big call 811 before you dig project.

The second phase of this major re-do will finally provide six lanes from Sycamore to Highline Avenue.

Helping to make the project run smoothly is knowing what’s below, thanks to South Dakota 811.

A major event like this requires a big effort on the part of underground utility locators to get the roadway marked and flagged for the rebuild. Before excavation could begin, a call to 811 helped to get the project rolling.

It may sound odd to talk about damage prevention when a road is being torn up – but that’s exactly what’s needed.  Workplace safety requires knowledge of what’s down below.  Hitting a gas line, electrical conduit, or anything else will just slow down the project work schedule and could quite possibly lead to injuries or death.

The call to 811 let all utilities in the vicinity of this big dig know they had to send out their utility locating services to get those flags in the ground.

Excavators can do their job safely and efficiently with the knowledge that underground utilities may be out of sight – but are never out of mind.

Commuters know that the project won’t be slowed down by completely unnecessary stops to repair damaged underground infrastructure.

And in the end, the taxpayers will save money because of the work done by the 811 system before the first ground was broken.

So until the project is finished, get an audio book to listen to on your way to and from work.

And always remember to call 811 first!
Until next week, safe digging!

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