We live in the most connected age in history.  What you text, post, email, or otherwise disseminate in a digital format can be instantly seen across the office, across town, across the nation and across the world.

Remember a few weeks ago when someone pressed the wrong button and sent an accidental incoming missile alert to Hawaii?  It was nearly forty minutes before that situation was rectified.  In the meantime, texts and messages were flying like home runs at a Sioux Falls Canaries game.

And it all turned out to be a mistake.   Pressing the wrong button is bad.  Pressing the right button is good.

So, we’re happy to congratulate the city of Aberdeen for their first ever safety alert issued via text over a house explosion incident that could have endangered the public.  The incident happened on Tuesday, February 6th.

According to news reports, Police Chief Dave McNeil said the officers who first responded to the scene noticed it had the characteristics of a gas explosion. He said firefighters then reported there was a secondary explosion and that the utility company was being notified, so steps were taken to alert the public.  You can read the entire story here:

Thankfully, there were no injuries, and the cause is still under investigation.

In such a scenario, getting the word out quickly is vitally important.    That’s part of what we’ll be doing in our Spring Damage Prevention meetings.  South Dakota 811 along with local utilities will be conducting informative sessions to assist the excavation community and operators of underground facilities in reducing damage to underground facilities and improving safety for excavation employees and the general public.  We want to make sure everyone utilizes underground utility locating services before digging.  Making the 811 request is priority one on any excavation project.

The full schedule is here:

It’s been said a million times that there is no substitute for safety.  And when we say if we’ve told you once, we’ve told you a million times, we’re not exaggerating.   Workplace safety is at the top of our list at South Dakota 811 – but we can’t do it by ourselves.

Call 811.  It’s free, it’s easy and it’s the law.

Until next time, safe digging!

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Love is in the air in South Dakota!   Well, to be fair, it’s actually everywhere, since Valentine’s Day is Wednesday.  While we like to think of it in terms of cards, flowers and chocolates, it’s also a nice dollar bonanza for local merchants.

According to downtown Sioux Falls Vice President Brienne Maner, February 14th can be good for business, but it takes some creativity to draw people out in the weather.

To help get the word out, they showcased some Valentine downtown events on the Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. website – here’s a link to the page.

You can read the entire story about this heart-to-heart mission here:

Whether it’s getting people to shop downtown Sioux Falls in frigid February, or getting people to call 811 before they dig, it’s all the same:  it requires getting the word out and letting people know you’re open for business.

At South Dakota 811, we’re always open for business.  Use South Dakota 811 to locate underground utilities before you dig. 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.  The call to 811 is free, as is the subsequent locating.

Don’t want to pick up a phone?  Contact us through the web portal or mobile app.   All the information is right here:

Remember, by contacting 811 before you dig, you’re sending a special Valentine to everyone in South Dakota that you value damage prevention and workplace safety.

Make sure those underground utilities are marked before you dig – and treat yourself to some downtown Sioux Falls store-bought candy and cards!

 Until next week, safe digging!

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While everyone was watching the Super Bowl (news flash, the Eagles beat the Patriots) a story from New Year’s Eve in northern South Dakota came to light.

An eight year old girl is being called a hero after helping a World War Two veteran escape a house fire.  The girl was with her grandparents in a car on New Year’s Day in Hecla when she saw smoke coming from a house.   She insisted on stopping to see what was going on.

As they pulled up, the 92 year old veteran was stumbling from the burning house.  The girl and her grandparents got him to safety and waited with him for an ambulance.

You can read the entire story here:

That eight year old made a difference.  She helped to save a life – the life of a fast diminishing group of national treasures, our World War Two veterans.

It’s proof that one person in the right place can make all the difference in the world.   Just like you calling 811 before digging.

Making that free call to get an underground utility locating service out to your job site before excavation begins is one of the single most important things you can do for workplace safety.

Utility locating services coupled with the call to 811 are free.

When you get to your job site and see the underground utility markers stuck into the ground, their bright colors giving you guidance about safe digging, you will have made a difference.  You or someone else will go home safe because you made that call, and because you obeyed the safety markers.

So be a hero.  Call us at South Dakota 811 before you dig.  Take full advantage of  free line locates from professional utility locating services after we notify them of your intent to dig and location.

There are 364 days until the next Super Bowl.   Be the 811 MVP on every one of them!

Until next week, safe digging!

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At South Dakota 811, we issue one call tickets. It’s pretty simple. You call us, we get some information, and then we send you a ticket along with any utility operators in your excavation vicinity.

The ticket is used to track progress on line locating prior to your dig, and it’s good for 21 days from issue.

Of course, we’ve all heard of the Golden Ticket issued by Willy Wonka to tour his magical candy factory.

And the South Dakota Lottery issues PLENTY of tickets.

But we’re the only entity in the state that issues tickets that could very well save your life and the lives of those around you.

And while we’re proud of our one call service and the damage prevention it provides –we admit defeat here at the hands of farm co-op Cenex Harvest States.

They’re handing out the biggest ticket of all – to this weekend’s Super Bowl.

A Lennox, South Dakota couple won two tickets by being chosen in an essay contest by Cenex.

Jonathan Hagena wrote a 250-word essay explaining what the co-op did for his farm.

You can read the whole story here:

You have to remember that Lennox has a population of just over 2,000, so it may seem that lightning struck – but everyone in Lennox has the opportunity for a South Dakota 811 ticket!

Simply call before you dig to take free advantage of utility locating services. Making that 811 request is as simple as dialing 811. Prevent outages and gas leaks. The 811 call is free, and so is the underground utility locating – which is either performed by the utilities in question or locate services working for them.

Plus, we don’t care if you’re an Eagles fan or a Patriots fan. If you’re digging in South Dakota, you’re always welcome at South Dakota 811!

(Even if you’re a Browns fan, but let’s not go there)

Until next week, safe digging!

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“If you haven’t been in a group of people with torches, you haven’t lived.” — Hank Fridell, coordinator for the Burning Beetle Festival.

Well, if that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will!   Mr. Fridell is talking about the annual Burning Beetle Festival in Custer.   For the fifth year in a row, residents hiked up Pageant Hill to set ablaze a giant pine bark beetle made of wood.   Call it a kind of release – like the villagers in an old Frankenstein movie setting the castle on fire with torches.

In this case, the Frankenstein monster is the pine beetle.   The mountain pine beetle, to be more precise. In April, the U.S. Forest Service declared that its twenty year beetle battle had come to an end with victory for the good guys.  Still, residents feel a certain amount of due revenge by setting the giant beetle effigy on fire, then celebrating with fireworks and s’mores.

It’s actually turned into a festival, including the Bug Crawl Blues featuring live music and drinks. The Custer Fire Department provided 150 lit torches while children got electric torches.

You can read the entire story here, at the Rapid City Journal.

What a great idea for a festival!   At South Dakota 811l, we believe in celebrating too.   We celebrate every single time someone calls 811 before they dig.   Calling 811 first prevents unnecessary accidents in the field due to hitting buried infrastructure.   Did you know there is even a manual on how to do it?   Check it out right here:

Are you a homeowner? Call us to locate underground utilities before you dig. It’s the law. Homeowners and landowners planning to plant a tree, build a fence or disturb the ground in any way must make the required locate request at least two working days before the planned work, or sooner if planning to work on a weekend or legal holiday. If the work will be done by a professional, a representative of that company must make the call.

There are a couple of exceptions to the requirement to notify South Dakota 811. A notification to South Dakota 811 is not required when tilling soil and gardening to a depth of 12″ or when tilling soil for agricultural purposes to a depth of 18″. However, it is advised for safety reasons that you contact South Dakota 811 even then. The depth of buried lines can vary greatly!

All of us at South Dakota 811 salute the U.S. Forest Service on their victory over the mountain pine beetle. Some day soon, we want to celebrate our victory that EVERYONE digging in our state uses 811. While we can’t promise a torchlight parade, we’ll think of something to commemorate that victory!

Until next week, safe digging!

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Today is Martin Luther King day – a holiday honoring the late Dr. King as the chief spokesperson for non violent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.

It’s always observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday. This year, it actually does fall on his birthday, January 15th.   While it was signed into law as a federal holiday in 1983, it wasn’t officially observed in all 50 states until 2000.

Before his life was cut short in 1968, King had won a Nobel peace prize, been Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” and delivered one of the most famous and most quoted speeches of all time – the “I Have a Dream” speech.

You can see and hear Dr. King speaking in a clip from that inspiring work here:

Dr. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Remember that today is more than a day when your bank is closed and you won’t get your regular mail delivery.

Today is more than many offices being closed or reduced staff working.

Today is more than just another cold January day.

If you have the day off today, enjoy it and give a thought to Dr. King and the social change he helped bring about that still grows today.

If you have locate requests to get in for upcoming work or emergencies, we’re open as always 24/7 here at South Dakota One Call.

And if you, too, have a dream, we urge you to live it.

As Dr. King said: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Until next time, safe digging!

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             Ok, we live in South Dakota. We have a pretty clear idea that suntan oil is not needed in January. Snow in your boots is a pain, and just like that kid in the movie, you really shouldn’t stick your tongue onto a steel pole.

And yet….there’s not much to take solace in when new record lows include Pierre at 25 below, Huron at 31 below, Mobridge at 30 below and Rapid City at 21 below.

While we’ve got a bit of a warm up going right now, the temperatures are expected to plunge again this coming weekend. Don’t bother getting your golf clubs out.

A big casino over in Iowa experienced frozen/burst pipes earlier this month.

Car and truck batteries are revolting against the cold weather. (Sorry about the pun)

It’s so cold I saw an ice cube wearing a parka.

Since South Dakota’s population grew by 0.9 percent between July of 2016 and July of 2017 – according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau –   as a public service we’d like to offer these tips on surviving the cold weather. (See last week’s blog for information on safe driving in cold weather)

From the website

  1. Wear a base layer preferably of wool
  2. Wear a mid-layer of fleece
  3. Make sure your outer layer is windproof and waterproof
  4. Wear at least two pairs of warm and waterproof socks.
  5. Wear waterproof winter boots
  6. Hat and scarf, cover your ears and neck
  7. Warm gloves
  8. Gaiters – waterproof boot leggings that keep your lower pants dry and snow out of your boots.

Believe it or not, spring is on its way.  (Don’t worry, it just stopped for coffee somewhere) When it does arrive, you want to be in great shape to start those projects you’ve been thinking about – and of course you’re going to need unfrozen fingers to dial us at 811!  Remember, call 811 for your underground damage prevention EVERY TIME!  No matter what the temperature is, safe digging starts with you.

Until next time, stay warm and safe digging!

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It’s now 2018 – just one day in – and South Dakota looks like someone left our state in the deep freeze.

Dangerously cold wind chill temperatures continue today (January 1) with wind chill warnings in effect for many areas.  Stay out of the cold if you can, but if you must brave the elements, dress in layers and minimize your exposure to the wind.

Today’s highs will still be below zero in Sioux Falls.

South Dakota Highway Patrol officers have been busy with weather related accidents – nearly 60 in the past few days alone.

You can read the entire story here:

It’s important to remember that you CAN freeze to death in a vehicle that’s stuck.   Be sure to carry cold weather supplies with you. The Washington State Department of Transportation has these recommendations:

Check your tires and make sure your chains fit before the first winter storm and check tire pressure during cold weather. Remember, tire shops and mechanics are busiest just before and during winter storms.

Get a vehicle winter maintenance check-up. Don’t wait to check your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, lights, brakes, heater/defroster and wipers.

Keep your fuel tank full — don’t let it fall below half a tank.

Program your radio for traffic reports and emergency messages

Keep a basic winter survival kit in your vehicle: flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, first-aid kit.

Load your car with winter travel gear : tire chains, ice scraper/snowbrush, jumper cables, road flares.

If you find yourself stranded, be safe, stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.

Additionally, check the roads before you go. The South Dakota Department of Public Safety has this link for an overlay of our state’s roads:

Officers say the most important item to have is a charged cell phone to call for help and also to help rescuers find you – especially if you are in a rural area and off the beaten path.

Meanwhile, out in sunny California – the 811 community is happy to announce it’s a category winner in the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade!

Our friends at Underground Service Alert of Southern California spearheaded this loveable float featuring cuddly canines and cats who are out to repair their garden’s underground utilities.


Unfortunately, they didn’t make that all important call to 811 to get underground facilities marked before they started digging – and now they’ve got to deal with what’s below!

The float, entitled “Making it Safe for All,” won the award for the most outstanding use of animation.

You can see more pictures of the float and its construction at the California Dig Alert Facebook page:

Have a great 2018, and until next week, safe digging!

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Here at South Dakota 811 we view ourselves as not only a damage prevention source, but also as a provider of on the job safety when it comes to excavation.   Our goal is simple – at the end of the day, we want you to get home safely from your job site with no damage to underground facilities.

Calling 811 before ANY excavation is your responsibility – and so is something else.

According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), an average of 300 people have died in drunk driving crashes during the Christmas to New Year’s holiday period over the last five years. Last year, 781 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during December alone.

That’s a terrifying – and entirely preventable – statistic.

Even if you manage to drive drunk without hitting anyone and get caught, it’s still going to cost you an average of $10,000 in attorney fees, court costs, fines and other items.

How can I prevent this, you may be asking yourself.   The same way you prevent digging up underground facilities.   YOU USE THE PHONE AND YOUR HEAD FIRST.

For one thing, NHTSA has set up its own SaferRide app. It will help you call a taxi or a friend to pick you up. It’s available for Android on Google Play and Apple in the iTunes store.

Of course, there is also Uber and Lyft in addition to the traditional cabs and taxis.   You can also designate a non-drinking driver. Many bars and some restaurants will comp that person’s meal as designated driver. (But be warned – I knew of one place that would comp the designated driver – but if they caught you taking a drink, they asked your entire party to leave, and YOU had to pay the entire party’s bar tab, regardless!)

So you see, there’s really no reason at all for a drunk driving incident on New Year’s Eve – or for that matter, any other time.  You have almost as many choices for getting a safe ride home as you have for getting in touch with us here at South Dakota 811 to have underground facilities located before you dig.

We’ll look into New Year’s resolutions next time!   Until next week, safe digging and safe driving!

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We’ve all heard the title phrase of this blog – but how many know where it originated? In keeping with the spirit of the season, we’re proud to present this holiday story as it occurred nearly 120 years ago.

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun newspaper and the response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The writer of the famous response was later revealed to be veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church.  Here are photos of the two of them at the approximate time of the event.

The original letter:

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.’

Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

115 West Ninety-Fifth Street

The published reply follows:

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

What became of the main players of this holiday tradition?

Virginia O’Hanlon passed away at the age of 81 on May 13, 1971, in Valatie, New York.

Writer Francis Pharcellus Church, born in 1839 and the grandson of a Revolutionary War soldier (and himself a Civil War news correspondent) died in New York City in 1906.

The question and answer ran in The New York Sun every year from its initial publication until the paper folded in 1949. (The paper’s name was revived years later for another publication)

And finally, Santa Claus still makes his annual appearance in one form or another across the world.

Until next week, here’s hoping your holidays are happy and that you enjoy the gift of safe digging!

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