For most people, when someone talks about digging, the visual brought to mind is that of a large, deep hole. However, when talking to a person who has been in the damage prevention industry for an extended amount of time, the images brought to mind vary and they may ask follow-up questions to get a better mental picture.
This is because we have seen and heard of the strangest things. If you ask us whether you should call 811, be prepared for us to respond with “It is important to call 811 anytime you are penetrating the surface of the dirt for any reason.”
Kathrine learned this the hard way. Many years ago, she was putting out decorations for the holiday season. She was pushing the wire stakes into the ground that allowed her reindeer to stand up without blowing away in the winter winds. She was enjoying decking her property with lights. A couple of times she would go to push down a peg and incur a little resistance. Assuming it was a rock or lump of clay, she would give it a little more oomph and get the stake in place.
Once her yard was lit up with holiday cheer, she went inside to warm up. Feeling accomplished, she decided to dial a friend and see how their decorating was going. Picking up the home phone and placing it to her ear, she heard nothing. There was no dial tone. This was before the ubiquity of cellphones, so Kathrine grabbed the one she rarely used and called the utility. It didn’t take them long to diagnose the issue once they arrived. At 3 inches deep, one of Kathrine’s wire stakes had cut her phone line. The resistance she had experienced for that peg, wasn’t a rock, but her phone line! She felt guilty and foolish as she was handed the bill for the repairs. Her earlier yuletide joy had slackened. I met Kathrine a few years later. She was calling 811 because it was time to put out her decorations again. She had just always assumed that the utilities were below the frost line and there was never any way that she would hit it with her decorations. After learning her lesson the hard way, she said she now calls 811 for every project in her yard, no matter how minor it seems.
Sing we joyous all together
With this season of joy getting into full swing, it's never a bad idea to remember to call 811. If you are going to put out decorations that will need to be anchored, or you want to trench those extension cords so they aren’t a hazard, don’t hesitate to get the underground lines marked. Utilities want to protect you and your assets.
Wondering who you should call before you dig? Simply dial 811 and you'll be connected with your state's one-call center and the utilities with their 811 ticket management system will take care of the rest... and here's good news, it only takes one call to cover all the utilities. So dig smart this year and save yourself from those holiday blues.
Happy Holidays from the BOSS811 team!
About the Author: Kristin Reed is a Senior Support Engineer with BOSS Solutions. Kristin has been part of the Damage Prevention Industry for more than a decade. She is committed to helping utilities and locators protect their facilities and keeping excavators safe at the dig site.