April is National Call Before You Dig Month

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 12:07 p.m. CDT

Since 2006, April has been designated as National Call Before You Dig Month. Local contractors and utility companies agree that calling 811 before you dig is very important and the call is absolutely free.

Mid-State Construction Co. employee Mike Schroyer explained the proper way to start a dig.

“You have got to call One Call, that locates any utilities underground,” Schroyer said. “It’s so you don’t tear out utilities, you never know what’s under there. You can have something in there you wouldn’t dream of sometimes. Be darn careful you don’t hit nothing while you are digging.”

Schroyer also explained that calling 811 can help you prevent serious injury or even death to yourself and others. Not calling could also result in major damages to utility lines and result in severe punishments and fines.

Alliant Energy spokesperson Heather Holmes agreed with Schroyer on the importance of 811. She also advises customers to use the service, something that Alliant has promoted since its inception.

“For quite some time now, it’s been an initiative that we stand behind; it insures customers’ safety and our contractors’ safety,” Holmes said.

Holmes also explained why April was chosen as the National Call Before You Dig Month.

“This is when the ground starts to get warm and soft and people are starting to think about doing landscaping or planting trees,” Holmes said. “That’s the most frequent time when we see digging, when our customers are planting. We ask even if you’re just considering planting, give 811 a call. It’s a free service. That way you know ahead of time where you can plant.”

Holmes also believes calling 811 is important no matter how deep or shallow you plan on digging.

“Even if it’s as shallow as six to eight inches, go ahead and call,” Holmes said. “Or if it’s something more substantial, like maybe you are going to put a deck on the back of the house, just call us either way, shallow or deep.

“Again, it’s a free service,” Holmes added. “We ask that you give them about three business days to come out and locate (lines in) your yard.”

Holmes also offered advice on digging once your yard has been marked.

“If you get within eight to 12 inches of the flag, we ask that you hand dig using a small hand shovel,” Holmes said. “We give the barrier, so that if you do get too close at least you’re not digging with any type (heavy equipment) or something that a homeowner would have rented from a hardware store.”

Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121 Ext. 426 or trushing@newtondailynews.com

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