Sprucing up the yard, starting a landscaping project or planting some trees, shrubs, flowers or a vegetable garden in the near future? Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) reminds everyone to first call 811 to contact Diggers Hotline in Wisconsin and Miss Dig in Michigan before any projects involving digging begins. \
Diggers Hotline and Miss Dig are coordinated, one-call centers that were established to keep everyone safe. Utility locate specialists will come to the caller’s home and locate and mark all underground utility services in the caller’s yard, free of charge.
At least three working days are required for locates prior to beginning a digging project.
Calling 811 is a state law, according to WPS (Wis. state statute 182.0175 and Mich.-Act 53). It requires notifying Diggers Hotline or Miss Dig before the caller excavates, grades, trenches, digs, drills, augers, tunnels, scrapes or plows. Excavation, according to the law, means anything that moves, removes or displaces earth, rock or other material in or on the ground. State law also mandates an 18-inch hand digging only buffer zone on each side of a marked facility.
This includes installing fence posts, digging a post hole for a mailbox, posting temporary yard signs, pounding stakes for temporary party tents or building a deck. All require a call to 811 before a project begins.
WPS responds to more than 400 cases of excavation damage to gas and electric underground facilities per year.
Nationwide, a utility line is damaged once every three minutes and one-third of these incidents are caused by failure of the homeowner or professional excavator to call 811.
WPS says most home owners think the 811 hotline only applies to those who use large construction-style power digging equipment. The unfortunate result of not calling the hotline may be serious injuries and disruption to electric or natural gas service to entire neighborhoods.
WPS has 7,800 miles of underground natural gas pipeline and 6,000 miles of underground electrical line in 19 northeastern and north central Wisconsin counties, and a small portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Call well in advance of the project start date to get locates done. Either dial 811 or submit a locate request through the email-a-locate system online at diggershotline.com or missdig.net/. Those who are hearing impaired may call (800) 542-2289 (TDD). Additional safety information is available at wisconsinpublicservice.com/home/dig.aspx.
The use of ladders while working in and around above-ground power lines for projects like house painting, cleaning gutters, tree branch trimming or getting roof access can also lead to unsafe situations. Tree trimming in potentially dangerous situations near power lines should be done by tree trimming professionals who are trained and have the proper equipment.
Any electrical yard tools, like hedge trimmers, small rototillers, pressure washers and air pressure tanks that use extension cords must also be used properly while keeping personal safety in mind.