Safety First!

Safety first should be a priority when planning or repairing outdoor projects.

Safety first should be a priority when planning or repairing outdoor projects. If you are planning a project that involves excavation, such as digging postholes for a fence, planting a shrub, installing a sprinkler system, or even putting in a new garden or flower bed, make sure you call Manitoba Hydro to locate underground lines.

Before you start your project, call Manitoba Hydro to arrange an appointment where they will check and mark your property for buried electrical and natural gas lines. The service to locate Manitoba Hydro-owned underground facilities is free. Manitoba Hydro’s trained personnel will mark the locations of underground power lines and gas lines and buried installations such as vaults containing transformers or electrical switchgear.

Manitoba Hydro personnel use marker flags and/or paint to indicate where lines are located. Be safe. Give yourself one meter of clearance on either side of the flag. When digging within the line locate range, dig manually. Don’t risk using mechanical equipment when you’re close to the lines. Remind children and curious spectators that marker flags are not toys and should not be removed until excavating is complete. Yellow marker flags indicate an underground natural gas line; red marker flags indicate an electrical cable.

Calling before you dig can prevent:

Know what to do if you smell natural gas

In its natural state, natural gas is colourless and odourless, so in order for it to be easily detected an odourant called Mercaptan is added to give it a rotten egg smell. Leaks from gas pipelines, although rare, can be a fire hazard. When it comes to natural gas safety, it is important to know how to recognize the warning signs of a natural gas leak both outside and inside your home and then take the necessary steps to ensure safety. Learn the three ‘R’s of Natural Gas safety: Recognize; React: Report.

Recognize the smell of natural gas and other warning signs outside including:

If you think there may be a natural gas leak, do not use any electrical switches, appliances, telephones, motor vehicles or any other source of ignition such as lighters or matches.

React by evacuating the area immediately. If at home, leave the door open as you exit. Stay away from the area until safety officials say it is safe to return.

Remember that overhead power lines also need to be respected on any job site. If you are planting trees, look up! Will the tree you plant today become tangled in a power line in the future? Always think ahead when planning your home landscape.

In new developments, the lines are in a common trench, but in older areas and rural areas, they may have their own trench. In rural areas, please call your local Municipal office for locates of water lines.

Most utilities need 3-5 working days notice to come mark the lines for you and once you have a clearance, there is roughly only 2 weeks that the clearance is valid or it must be redone.

Good luck with your outdoor projects and remember Safety First!

Information in this article attained from Manitoba Hydro and Bill White. Bill has been associated with work place safety committees for 25 years in the government and the private sectors.