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!