GETTING YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT

So here we are in the last week of Safe Digging Month.  Hope you’ve done your part to keep our underground infrastructure safe!   It’s so easy to reach South Dakota 811.  Just dial 811!   Or visit our webpage, http://www.sd811.com for more information.  Nothing could be easier.

Of course, South Dakotans sometimes take things to extremes that we really shouldn’t.

In Sioux Falls recently, police say a 56-year-old man ran into a burning building twice, despite orders from police and firefighters for him to stop.

Rescuing children?  Pets?  Wedding photographs?  His aged grandmother confined to a wheelchair?

Nope.  When he came back out, police said that he was carrying two cans of Bud Ice beer.

No kidding.  You can read the story here:

http://www.keloland.com/news/article/news/police-man-entered-burning-building-for-2-cans-of-beer

No doubt there are a lot of things you’d run back into a burning building for, but two cans of beer shouldn’t be on the list.

It’s about priorities.   And your first priority before you begin ANY excavation project should be to get in touch with 811.  We’ll get all the information needed in one easy five minute or less call to help ensure that your underground utilities are flagged or marked prior to your dig.

Seriously, nothing could be easier than using 811.

Your utilities will thank you for it, your boss will thank you for it, your insurer will thank you for it, and your emergency responders will thank you for it.

Because, you know, they have to keep an eye on the rocket scientists running into burning buildings to retrieve a couple of cans of beer.

Until next week, safe digging!

 

 

 

 

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MODERNIZING INCLUDES 811

My house was built in 1936.  That means it’s 81 years old this year.  At some point in its past life, the wiring was replaced and modernized, as was the interior plumbing – though the original bathtub to the house is still in place in the downstairs bathroom.  It’s huge.  The home inspectors said to never get rid of it, because all that would be left is a huge hole in the floor where this nearly three foot deep monster currently resides.   Sure, it’s been refinished over the years, but I can well imagine some kid in 1942 with a navy flotilla in there splashing water all over the place.

The water line from the city meter to the house, however – is about kaput.

Oddly, for the work done to modernize the interior plumbing, the water input line appears to be the original from 1936.   That it’s still working is a minor miracle, though the word “working” can have a couple of definitions here.  Does it carry water from the city to the house without geysering up in the yard?  Yes.

Does it carry a large enough volume that you may flush the toilet without killing someone in the shower?  No.

I don’t know if you’ve ever replaced a water service line before.  Apparently it’s not cheap.   Three estimates were taken, and here they are:  $2700, $3200, and $3700.

Which one is being used?   (Go ahead, I’ll give you a second or two to do the math)

Right!  $2700.    And not only for the cost.  Mr. $2700, once he was done telling me how the line would be laid in and how long it would take, also said those two little words I longed to hear:  “Before we start trenching you’re going to have to call in a locate to 811.”

Okay, so maybe it was a bit more than two little words, but you get the picture.

It’s not a giant job.  No one is laying down a natural gas pipeline through the street.  But they will be digging.  And that means the risk of hitting something exists.

Homeowners, farmers, ranchers – all should be calling in for locates.  The 811 number is not just for the big boy utilities.  It’s a national number, and it’s for everyone.  What’s more, it’s free to use, and so is the locating service.

We’ve still got two weeks left in National Safe Digging Month, so make the most of it.  Get into the 811 habit!  You’ll be glad you did!

Until next week, safe digging!

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THE ART OF CALLING 811

When you were a kid, did you ever get one of those paint-by-numbers kits?  They had a pre-designed “art work” and all you had to do was follow the number scheme to put in the correct paint where designated.   They looked like this:

were perfect for those of us with no artist inside.   Or maybe they served to awaken your hitherto unknown inner artist.  In either case, using one took all the guess work out of creating your own “masterpiece”!

I recently attended a book launch party for a friend at an establishment that specializes in free-hand painting – where you really are the artist!   A class gets set up with acrylic paints, brushes, an easel, a canvas, and before you can say ready-set-go we were painting our own pictures.

Of course, there was an instructor leading the class, and we were all painting an image of the same picture.

Despite the protestations of some that they couldn’t even draw a straight line, the pictures all began to take shape along the same general theme.  By the time the class was over, everyone had a canvas that, while it might not hang at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre, was at least refrigerator door worthy.  (If you could find a way to hang a canvas on a refrigerator door)

What relevance does this exercise have for 811?   Just this.   Before the class, people thought they could NEVER manage a painting.   After the class, they could.  It’s the same with calling 811 prior to a dig.  If you’ve never dialed it, you might be thinking it’s going to be some inordinate hassle.   Truth is, it will be the easiest five minutes you ever spend.

And possibly the most profitable, too.  Repairing broken underground utilities is not cheap.

Now is a great time to get into the 811 habit during National Safe Digging Month!  And even if your art class paintings never sell, you’ll still be a Rembrandt or Picasso to your local utilities for calling 811 before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging!

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EVERY MONTH IS SAFE DIGGING MONTH

April is National Safe Digging Month. It began in 2008 as a way to encourage all CGA (Common Ground Alliance) stakeholders to promote the safe digging message through one voice during one strategic month when digging activity begins in earnest nationwide following winter.

Safe digging means paying attention to the job, following the rules, and most importantly, calling 811 prior to any excavation to get those underground utilities marked and located.

Not following any of these simple protocols can result in disaster.

This April is the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a case study in not following protocols that resulted in disaster. There were many, but let’s look at what may be the top three.

A fire had begun in one of Titanic’s coal bunkers approximately 10 days prior to the ship’s departure, and continued to burn for several days into its voyage, but it was finally extinguished on April 14th – the day the ship hit the iceberg. Fresh evidence suggests the ship’s hull may have been crippled by a massive blaze that burned unchecked for almost three weeks immediately behind the spot where it was later pierced. You can read the article here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/31/huge-fire-ripped-titanic-struck-iceberg-fresh-evidence-suggests/

So – we have a coal bunker fire that blazed hot enough and long enough to seriously compromise the structural integrity of the hull – at the exact spot where it took the first blows from the iceberg.

Obviously, this was a visual clue that was ignored. The ship should never have set sail with a coal fire of that magnitude burning.

Just the same, visual clues of an underground gas leak before excavation that shouldn’t be ignored are:

• A rotten egg odor.
• Discolored or dead vegetation over or near the pipeline.
• A hissing, whistling or roaring sound near a gas appliance or pipeline.
• Dirt or debris being blown into the air.
• Persistent bubbles in streams, ponds or wet areas.

Second, the officers of the Titanic knew they were entering iceberg-infested waters many hours before the collision. Radio reports had been received – and generally ignored. Titanic received six messages from other ships warning of drifting ice, which passengers on Titanic had begun to notice during the afternoon.

Although the crew was aware of ice in the vicinity, the ship’s speed was not reduced, and she continued to steam at 22 knots, only 2 knots short of her maximum speed of 24 knots, or 28 miles per hour.

Ignoring written warnings! How many times have you seen one of these signs warning you of underground utilities? Those signs are there for a reason, just as the iceberg warnings were transmitted for a reason.

Ignoring these markers or others like them is a certain way of digging your way into disaster!

Finally, the two lookouts on duty at the time of the accident, situated some 95 feet above the deck in the crow’s nest, had no binoculars. Those particular items had been left behind in port due to some sort of mix up. When one of the surviving lookouts was asked by a commission of inquiry whether or not they would have seen the iceberg from farther away, he replied that he would have seen it “a bit sooner”. When asked “How much sooner?” he responded: “Well, enough to get out of the way.”

Leaving the binoculars behind is the equivalent of not calling 811 first. 811 is a safety measure – and, we may add, a safety measure that costs you nothing.

There is always time to take the time for safety. While April is designated as National Safe Digging month, the other eleven months of the year are also a time to practice the hallmarks of safe digging.

And the number one hallmark of safe digging is to ALWAYS call 811 prior to ANY dig.

Because waiting to call until after the water is pouring in at an estimated rate of nearly 2,000 gallons per second isn’t going to do you any good at all.

Until next week, safe digging!

By Scott Finley

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BRING IT ON HOME

Spring is in the air, and a recent home remodeling show took center stage.

You can read the full article here in the Rapid City Journal:  http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/log-homes-remodeling-big-trends-at-home-show/article_db21045e-c348-5777-822b-b9fbab0412b4.html

Home remodeling is undergoing a boom these days, thanks in no small part to the many shows you can watch about the topic on TV.  Back in the day it used to only be “This Old House” on PBS, but now – you can find a show on redoing your home at almost any time of the day or night.

There’s no doubt that doing a home remodel can be exciting, and you’ll love the results.

However –

The results you love are a direct result of your involvement and preparation for the project.   Making it up as you go is no way to do a home remodel.

Fortunately, municipalities really won’t let you make it up as you go.  Most require detailed building plans to be furnished, and then require inspections of the work as it is installed.   Face it – you wouldn’t want an electrical panel that looked like this, would you?

And yet, stuff like that exists in the real world.  Just ask any home inspector what he or she has seen on some of their jobs.

If you’re expanding your house beyond its current footprint, the first thing you need to do is call 811.

Our Damage Prevention Agents take your call and go through a very precise list of questions with you.  The ultimate goal of this Q/A session is to leave no stone unturned before the information is turned over to the relevant utilities that have buried infrastructure in your dig area.

The next step in the link is notifying said utilities.  That happens immediately.  The utilities then have 48 hours to get out and mark or flag the location of their pipes and cables.   Weekends and holidays are excepted.  A call at two pm on Friday has a deadline of two pm the following Tuesday.   A call at two pm on Monday has a deadline of two pm on Wednesday.

But before you put that backhoe into the ground, use a shovel and hand dig carefully down to expose the lines below.  Then, exercise care and caution when using your mechanized equipment.  Respect the dig, don’t be in a rush, and before you know it your new add on foundation is laid and the walls are going up!

Always call South Dakota 811 before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging!

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HELP OUT YOUR VFD

You never know how much you depend on them – until they’re not there anymore.

South Dakota is experiencing some difficulty retaining experienced and recruiting new volunteer firefighters, at a time when calls are on the increase.   How serious is this?  South Dakota leans heavily on its volunteer firefighting teams. A recent story in the Rapid City Journal reports that “…only five of the 337 fire departments in the state are not fully or partially staffed by volunteers.”

You can read the whole story here:  http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/volunteer-firefighters-struggle-to-keep-pace-with-rising-calls/article_12e2b40e-b0bb-58d8-9991-1ca5c03386ee.html

The men and women who answer the call for volunteer fire protection cannot be over-praised.   They can, however, be overworked.

What can you do about helping them?

One way is by calling South Dakota One Call before you dig.  Blindly cutting into a buried gas or electrical line is a preventable error.   A simple, free call to 811 to have buried utilities marked or flagged prior to a dig helps prevent accidents that could quickly become serious or life-threatening.

Your volunteer firefighters put their lives on the line every time they answer a call.  While some emergencies can’t be helped, a 911 call for a ruptured and flaring pipeline that could have been prevented with a free call to 811 is inexcusable.

How much of a difference can you make?  Here’s another item from the story above:  “Of the 337 fire departments in South Dakota, 325 are completely volunteer and seven are a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters.”

A volunteer firefighter often works a paying job and drops tools when the alarm is sounded.  So if you cut a gas line because you didn’t call 811, you’re also impacting their employers –it’s truly a domino effect.

So – give a thought to all of those who wear the Nomex® bunker gear and carry Scott SCBA air packs on their backs; the ones who rush into burning buildings when others are running out, the ones who head toward danger when others are leaving the scene.

Call 811 first.

Because it’s not just your life you’re gambling with if you don’t.

Until next time, safe digging!

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SPRING IS IN THE AIR

That last bit of snow over the weekend was fun, wasn’t it?   Everybody raise your hands!

March apparently wasn’t done with us, dumping at least a half foot of snow on the ground in some places.  Brookings is estimated to have gotten six inches, while another three fell on Sioux Falls.

While it does seem that winter will never end, I can assure you that brighter days are coming.

So – in promise of those brighter days, ignore the late snow and pay attention!

It’s the time of year when South Dakotans are thinking about outside activities.   Home and garden shows are thriving, your local nursery has a gazillion plants on sale, and every empty flower pot you own is begging for a new resident.

At South Dakota One Call, we say good for you!   And – bonus points – planting in a flower pot does NOT require a call to 811 first!

However….

If you are going full out landscaping and tearing up the yard, PLEASE do make the free call to 811.   Don’t go digging up trouble.   Nothing puts the hex on a beautiful spring like cutting through a fiber optic cable or nicking a gas line.  One simple call, and within 48 hours underground utilities are flagged so you know what’s below.

No doubt you’ve already seen the tiny marker flags sprouting all over South Dakota (until the snow buried them) as builders and contractors began throwing dirt.  That means calls to 811 have been made to ensure safe digging with no nasty surprises – and if the professional excavators make the call, that’s all the more reason that weekend warriors should, too!

Because while late season snows may be upsetting, damaging an underground utility line or cable will REALLY give you something to cry about!

Until next week, safe digging!

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THE ALL STAR BREAK IS OVER

It’s only March, but you can get that first whiff of spring in the air – and that means your Sioux Falls Canaries will soon be back in action on the baseball diamond!  The first game is set for May 18th against the Sioux City Explorers.   http://sfcanaries.com

Baseball heralds the arrival of warmer weather – and in South Dakota, warmer weather heralds the arrival of excavation season.  At South Dakota One Call, we want you to have a great season with no errors, so when you get up to bat on your digging project, make sure you put that call into the bullpen:  811!

811 is your ace pitcher, your ace closer, your utility infielder, your RBI champion!

Before too long, you’ll see multi-colored utility locator flags popping up out of the ground like so many flowers.  Do you know what they mean?  Here’s the American Public Works Association color code chart for buried utilities.  Like a catcher’s hand signals to the pitcher, every color has a meaning.

Using South Dakota One Call is easier than standing in the 7th inning stretch!   Call us at 811, visit us online at  http://www.sdonecall.com  or use one of our mobile apps. Excavators planning to dig, drill or trench should make the required locate request to South Dakota 811 two working days before the planned work. Homeowners and landowners planning their own excavation activities are required to notify South Dakota 811 as well.

Also, just as baseball has winter meetings, we are having our spring damage prevention meetings for professional excavators and facility operators!   You can get more information, locations and times here:  http://www.sdonecall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2017-Schedule-for-Damage-Prevention-Meetings.pdf

When the Canaries throw out that first pitch, you know you’ll be cheering them on – and you’ll be enjoying the game even more because you know you’re doing your part to keep South Dakota’s underground infrastructure safe by calling 811!

Until next time, safe digging!

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DON’T CALL 811 (FROM A MOVING VEHICLE)

DON’T CALL 811 (FROM A MOVING VEHICLE)

 

A recent story in the Rapid City Journal says that tech-saavy young millenial drivers are the most unsafe, according to the American Automobile Association.

“In a report released this month by AAA, young millennial drivers were found to engage in the riskiest driving behavior of any age group, with 88 percent of 19- to 24-year-olds admitting they had exhibited at least one risky driving behavior in the past 30 days, such as speeding, running red lights or using a cellphone while driving. The report was based on a survey of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older.”

You can read the full story here in the Rapid City Journal on-line edition:

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/tech-savvy-young-millennial-drivers-are-the-most-unsafe-aaa/article_a12be180-9519-5a73-96ca-9911dd61ddf1.html

Many of the complaints centered around using a cell phone while driving – something you should never do.  Find a place to pull off the road – a parking lot for instance – and catch up on what you need to do.   Many drivers now use a Bluetooth connection for hands free talking on the phone, including dialing up the number; still, that means paying attention to your driving.

South Dakota One Call welcomes your calls for underground utility locate requests.  However, we would prefer it if you made them from a non-moving vehicle!   The same goes for logging onto our portal from your smart phone.  Please don’t do this from a moving vehicle.

A report last week by the National Safety Council showed the number of motor vehicle deaths in 2016 in the United States was 40,200, a 6 percent increase from 2015. In 2015, U.S. traffic deaths rose more than 7 percent, the largest single-year increase in more than 50 years, according to AAA.

South Dakota, on the other hand, had just 116 traffic fatalities in 2016, a decrease of 13 percent from 133 fatalities in 2015.

At South Dakota One Call, we want to keep that ball rolling.   Here’s information from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

“In South Dakota, the use of handheld electronic wireless communication device for text-based communication on highways is prohibited. Among the exceptions is when the driver is contacting any emergency public safety answering point or dispatch center. Violation of the law is a secondary, petty offense.

“The Department of Public Safety, including its individual agencies of the Office of Highway Safety and the Highway Patrol, have made distracted driving a priority safety issue. Officials have used promotional and educational efforts as ways to remind drivers not to get distracted by cell phones and other devices, not to drink and drive and always use a seatbelt.”

To all of which we agree. We want you to continue to use 811 for damage prevention!   Just call 811 or log onto the South Dakota One Call site at http://www.sdonecall.com for more information.   It’s a free service, and getting those underground utilities located prior to a dig is also free.  Why wouldn’t you call?

Just not from a moving vehicle, please!

 

Until next time, safe digging!

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Just Like Clockwork

JUST LIKE CLOCKWORK

 

I was fortunate enough recently to take in a Cirque du Soleil show.   If you’ve never seen one, take advantage of it the next time they are in Sioux Falls!

The shows defy description – the costumes, the makeup, and of course the performers who do such acrobatic things with their bodies that you expect SpiderMan to come swinging in from the rafters at any moment.

And believe me, old Spidey would be completely outclassed by the performers under the big top.

Watching this show, I was struck by how precisely and perfectly coordinated every move is – no wasted effort anywhere.

It’s kind of like what you get when you call 811.  Our Damage Prevention Agents take your call and go through a very precise list of questions with you.  The ultimate goal of this q/a session is to leave no stone unturned before the information is turned over to the relevant utilities that have buried infrastructure in your dig area.

The next step in the link is notifying said utilities.  That happens immediately.  The utilities then have 48 hours to get out and mark or flag the location of their pipes and cables.   Weekends and holidays are excepted.  A call at two pm on Friday has a deadline of two pm the following Tuesday.   A call at two pm on Monday has a deadline of two pm on Wednesday.

Line locators show up to find and flag what’s underground.  The colors of the paint or flag denote the kind of line that’s buried beneath.   Here’s a look at what those colors mean:  http://www.sdonecall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/SD-color-code.jpg

Finally, this clockwork movement circles back around to you.   But before you put that backhoe into the ground, use a shovel and hand dig carefully down to expose the lines below.  Then, exercise care and caution when using your mechanized equipment.  Respect the dig, don’t be in a rush, and before you know it you’re done and ready for your next job.

You’re not a high-flying acrobatic performer and there’s no need for you to do your job without a safety net – you have one!

Always call South Dakota 811 before you dig!

Until next week, safe digging!

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