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Murray Journal

Lawns, Gardens and Electrical Safety

Apr 12, 2016 12:35PM ● By Rachel Hall

April combines the themes of lawns, gardens and electrical safety by being designated as National Lawn and Garden Month and National Safe Digging Month. Rocky Mountain Power reminds the public to call 811 and exercise great care when digging in the ground for gardens, fences, tree planting, etc. because contacting underground electrical facilities can cause outages and potentially serious injuries. 

“Electricity in an important part of each of our lives, but it also poses an inherent danger if safety rules are ignored. Particularly during the spring planting season, everyone should follow electrical safety rules when undertaking any project that requires digging,” said Mike Felice, Rocky Mountain Power safety director. “Using the underground utility locating services is a simple precaution that can help avoid serious injury and potential power outages to neighborhoods.” 

Each state has a locating service that is accessed by simply calling 811 at least two business days before beginning any digging project. Workers will locate all underground utility lines – electric, gas, water, communication, etc. – and mark them for free. It is estimated that nationwide an underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig first without calling 811. It’s important to note that the underground location expires after two weeks. If digging beyond the expiration date, the locating service must be contacted again to update the request.

Once the lines are located, follow the required clearances. A minimum clearance of 24 inches from the marked line is required when using any power-operated or earth-moving equipment. If it is necessary to dig within the 24-inch area, only use hand tools with extreme caution to avoid contact with the utility lines. Due to settling, soil erosion over time and changes in landscaping, utility lines that were once buried several feet underground could now be just inches below the surface.

Whether marked or unmarked, if an underground power line is damaged during digging, immediately call 911 if a threat to human life exists and keep everyone away from the area until help arrives. In addition, call Rocky Mountain Power so the line can be repaired. The toll-free number to report the damage is 877-508-5088.

“Call before you dig is the best advice anytime,” Felice said. “But it’s especially important to remember this time of year when so many landscaping projects are getting underway.”

For more electrical safety information, check out Rocky Mountain Power’s website at or call customer service toll free at 1-888-220-7070.