With springlike temperatures finally arriving in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin area, homeowners and gardeners will be out in full force.
It's still early, but many are preparing for the growing season.
That means they will be soon planting flowers, trees and shrubbery, landscaping projects, or even adding a new deck.
April is National Safe Digging Month, and local utilities are encouraging homeowners and excavators to call before digging.
In Michigan, contact MISS DIG at 1-800-482-7171 or by dialing 8-1-1.
In Wisconsin, call the Diggers Hotline by either dialing 8-1-1 or 1-800-242-8511.
Gov. Rick Snyder has issued a proclamation declaring April as "Safe Digging Month" in Michigan, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has declared April as Diggers Hotline Month.
Each year thousands of gas pipeline leaks occur when individuals or companies fail to follow safe digging practices, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Individuals and companies considering any kind of digging project are encouraged to call 811 for assistance before they begin. The federally mandated number was created for homeowners and contractors. A call to 811 results in underground lines being marked for free.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Common Ground Alliance are observing April as National Safe Digging Month to help protect residents from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects.
Wisconsin Public Service officials also remind everyone the importance of calling 811 or (800) 242-8511 before you dig.
"As spring begins to take hold, we want to remind Wisconsin residents of the importance of Diggers Hotline. We offer a free service that we encourage everyone to use before they begin any digging projects," said Chad Krueger of Diggers Hotline.
"By calling 811 or using our online program to have underground utility lines in the area marked, you are making an important decision that can help keep you and your communities safe and connected," Krueger said in a statement.
With all the projects going on involving digging this time of year, it is best to get your request in early as April is typically one of the busiest months of the year in the MISS DIG call center.
The cold has hung on a little longer this year, so we expect a busy April as many excavation projects start up after a long winter off, officials said.
Contractors working on a job site and homeowners working in the yard must call 811 before the digging begins.
There is a pre-established system in place that will send a locator technician to where the digging will take place as soon as possible, usually within three working days from when the request was received. There is no charge for the service and the call is toll free.
"It's not just for those who are using power digging equipment," said Upper Peninsula Power Co. officials.
"We want anyone who is digging in their yard from a simple home project of planting a tree, installing a sprinkler system, to installing fence posts, to call the hotline first. Digging can be dangerous if you don't check below the surface before you start," UPPCO officials said.
Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to Miss Dig or the Diggers Hotline first.
Homeowners planning to work in their yards are asked to call at least three business days prior to conducting excavation on their property.
You will be asked several questions when you call, including:
- Your name and phone number.
- The contractor or person doing the work.
- The geographical location (county, city, village, or township) of the work area.
- The address where the work will be done.
- The type of work being done; for example, installing a fence or building a deck.
- Information about the project area that identifies the boundaries for the utility representatives; for example, locate underground utility lines 100 feet from the north side of the house; locate underground utility lines in the entire yard; or locate underground utility lines in the front yard.
- When do you plan to dig.
Utility personnel or their contracted locators will arrive on site and mark the approximate location of underground wires. It is likely that more than one locator will mark lines prior to the dig-start date specified on your ticket.
After the three business days is up, please inspect your work location for utility markings.
- Red is for electric.
- Orange is for telephone, cable TV, fire & police communications.
- Yellow is for gas and oil.
- Green is for storm drains.
- Blue is for water systems.
- Brown is for sewer systems.
- Pink is for surveying.
If you have questions or concerns, dial 8-1-1 and refer to the ticket number given to you during your initial call.
If your project requires digging near a marked line, carefully hand expose that line with a shovel or other means to verify its exact location prior to beginning the project.
Utility markings are an approximation and may not indicate a line's location to the inch. The depth of a utility line is not provided by the utility.
Also, check your surroundings for evidence of underground lines that may not have been marked; such as gas meters, telephone pedestals, or electric meters.
Failure to call before digging results in more than 200,000 unintentional hits annually across the nation.
Don't become part of the statistics - make the call.