Insurance Insights

Stay Safe While Digging

3 minute read time

If the spring weather has motivated you to do some DIY projects in your yard, it’s best to think through your project before jumping into it. Common projects include:

  • Installing a mailbox
  • Planting a tree, shrub, or flowers
  • Creating a garden 
  • Building a fence
  • Constructing a deck or patio
  • Adding an invisible fence for your pet
  • Installing a pole for a basketball hoop

If one of these projects is on your list, there are a few safety considerations to keep in mind before you grab your shovel and start digging. Buried underneath the dirt and grass in your yard are utility lines for services to your home which include electric, gas, water, sewer, cable TV, and telephone. Digging up or damaging one of these lines could put you in harm’s way or create unnecessary and expensive repairs.

Before You Dig – Call 811

No matter how big or small your project is, state law may require you to contact your local call center. Each state has its own call center to answer your questions. In Wisconsin, you’ll need to call 811 or visit Diggers Hotline for more information. After you talk to them or complete an online request, they’ll contact your local utility companies. Within a few days, utility employees will be dispatched to your home. Once at your home, they’ll mark your underground utility lines with spray paint or flags. Until the markings are made, don’t dig.

What the different colors mean:

  • White – Proposed excavation
  • Pink – Temporary survey markings
  • Red – Electric power lines, cables, conduit, and lighting cables
  • Yellow – Gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or gaseous materials
  • Orange – Communication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduit
  • Blue – Water
  • Purple – Reclaimed water, irrigation, and slurry lines
  • Green – Sewers and drain lines

When it comes time to start digging, here are some tips to keep you safe:

  • Stretch. Digging requires bending, twisting, and engaging muscles you might not know you had. Make sure you take a few minutes to stretch and warm up before you begin your work.
  • Use the appropriate equipment. Again, think about your project before digging. This will ensure you have the appropriate hand tools or rental equipment required for the job. 
  • Don’t move a utility line. Even with the appropriate markings, there’s a chance you could hit a line. If that’s the case, stop digging and don’t attempt to move it. 
  • Call 911. If you accidentally hit a line causing damage that can be life-threatening, stop digging, and call 911 immediately.
  • Make sure your contractor has insurance. If you plan to hire a contractor for your excavation project, make sure they have the proper insurance. Also, make sure they’re bonded. Bonding protects you if the contractor fails to complete a job or does not meet other financial obligations, such as paying for damage they’ve caused to your property.

Protecting Yourself with Service Line Coverage

Did you know as a homeowner, you may be responsible for all the underground utility lines that run underneath your property and connect your home to the outside world? While your homeowners insurance policy protects your home, it may not cover any damage to the service lines under your property. Service Line coverage is an extra layer of insurance for lines running to and from your home, including power, heat, natural gas, waste disposal or telecommunications services. The protection may cover service line damage caused by wear and tear, corrosion, collapse, systems breakdown, freezing and tree roots.

Advisors at Johnson Financial Group are here to help you understand your coverage and the best way to protect you and your home. A conversation with your advisor ensures you are covered well before your project begins. Contact an advisor today.

Content provided by West Bend Mutual Insurance.