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Spring is here. Can you dig it?

April 01, 2015   By Nicole Aiello in Safety

Spring is in the air, literally. It's dusting porches and making cars look like they have a fluorescent sheen to them. Although I'm not a huge fan of pollen — just ask my allergist — I am a huge fan of spring and of landscaping my yard with beautifully hued flowers and tropical plants.

Planting for me is about the end product and getting to sit back on a sunny day to admire the view with a cold glass of lemonade. The process of planting, though, can sometimes lead to trouble. Running into roots and pulling out trees, and sneezing the whole time when doing it, are minor distractions compared to what could happen.

We may not think about it much, but many of us have utility lines buried in our yards, silently lurking and working under the turf. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to have them there. But one wrong clip with a shovel, and there could be trouble.

To stay safe while digging, anyone planning to plant should contact South Carolina 811. This is a free service, and utilities in your area — like Santee Cooper — will come to your home and clearly mark where utility lines are buried on your property. Calling before you dig is a good idea, and it's the law. Not only could damaging a utility result in costly fines or outages, it could also result in injury or even death.

There are detailed directions on what you need to do, including giving SC811 a minimum of three business days prior to digging, at The website also has nifty and easy-to-read graphics and charts that tell you things like what utility is associated with what color you may see a utility mark in your yard (electric power lines are red). You can call 811 or 888-721-7877 to submit a "locate request" or you can fill the form out online.

Once the request is made, you must wait three full working days before digging. After that, you can begin turning your yard into the beautiful, landscaped oasis you desire.

Remember, new plants, bushes and trees are only worth the effort if you, your family and your neighbors are safe to enjoy them. For more electrical safety tips, including information on downed and overhead power lines, visit Santee Cooper's website.