The weather is warming up, and with it comes a lot more time spent outdoors. If you plan on getting some backyard construction done on something like a fence, President of Utility Safety Partners (formerly Alberta One-Call Corporation) Mike Sullivan urges everyone to due your homework before putting shovels in the ground.

Utility Safety Partners' "Click before you Dig" program will send somebody to your location to let you know whether or not there are any potential utility lines or safety hazards below the ground you need to know. The inspector provides this service free of charge and you can expect someone to be there in 3-5 days, so Sullivan says there is no reason not to do it. 

"Click before you dig, because one click literally costs you nothing, but not clicking could cost you everything," he says.

When he says it can cost you everything, that isn't an exaggeration. In a worst-case scenario, you could end up killing yourself if you don't know what's below the ground before you dig.

"You could very well electrocute yourself, you hit a gas line, if there's ignition there could be fire. Injuries can happen very easily if you're not doing the right thing. You don't know what utilities are below and if you strike one, you could be putting yourself, your family, and your community at risk, and that should be the biggest thing on your mind."

If you were to hit a utility and end up unscathed, the consequences can still be huge. Explaining that the fine just for repairing a buried utility can range anywhere from $5000 to $50 000 dollars, your bank account will see a huge hit that you may not be prepared to pay off. And that's not even including potential environmental damage fines.

With the consequences as grave as they are, Sullivan urges everyone to check with Utility Safety Partners first, especially since their services are free. 

If you plan on building a fence, you can see the Town of Strathmore's building requirements for fences and other projects here.

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