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Every few minutes, an underground utility line is damaged when someone digs without first calling 8-1-1. That’s why FirstEnergy recently teamed with the Ohio Utilities Protection Service – the organization behind the slogan “Call Before You Dig” – to showcase the importance of electrical safety with a live demonstration for public officials and contractors in northeast Ohio.
Known as OHIO811, the Ohio Utilities Protection Service is the liaison between businesses or residents planning an excavating project and utilities of all types that maintain buried lines or equipment, including FirstEnergy. State laws require that any excavator notify their appropriate state 8-1-1 system prior to starting a digging project. In addition to the safety benefits, this system limits customer liability in case digging results in damage to underground utilities.
To show the dangers associated with electricity, the public gathered in the parking lot of the OHIO811 building in North Jackson, Ohio, to watch FirstEnergy’s utility personnel demonstrate the power of 7,200 volts of electricity using a mobile electrical safety exhibit. They created bright arcs by using an energized transformer to send electricity through various materials, including a shovel that struck an underground power line. The demonstration highlighted the importance of staying far away from power lines and electrical equipment, including hidden underground infrastructure that is often buried only a few inches below the ground.
“Safety is a core value at FirstEnergy, and this event helps extend our focus on safety beyond our employees and into the communities we serve,” said Candace Webb, manager of public safety at FirstEnergy. “Our safety demonstration allows people of all ages to see the dangers of electricity firsthand in a controlled environment, in hopes they retain the knowledge and share it with their colleagues, friends and family.”
In addition to FirstEnergy’s safety demonstration, OHIO811 had a virtual construction simulator with excavating equipment onsite to help drive home their message to call 8-1-1 at least three business days before starting a digging project of any size. The 8-1-1 line connects contractors or property owners with someone who will locate and mark underground electric, gas or other utility lines at no charge. This information helps prevent damage to underground lines and reduces the risk of power outages or severe injury.
“The collaboration between OHIO811 and our utilities helps prevent avoidable injuries and fatalities to Ohioans,” said Jenifer French, chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, who was onsite for the safety event. “There are many digging projects, big and small, that take place across the state and it’s important that we do all we can to ensure they’re completed safely. That’s what this event is all about.”
The following information will be needed when making a call to 8-1-1:
FirstEnergy’s live electrical safety demonstration is part of its “Stop. Look. Live.” campaign to educate the public about staying safe around electricity and near power lines and equipment. The campaign kicked off last fall and features engaging and memorable initiatives to help protect groups that are most at-risk of encountering safety hazards, including first-responder organizations and contractors. The campaign also features an educational program for children.
Visit www.firstenergycorp.com/publicsafety to learn more about FirstEnergy’s "Stop. Look. Live." campaign and review important tips to stay safe around electricity.
Call Before You Dig!
The following are the required advance notice requirements (excluding the day the ticket was created, weekends and legal holidays) for each state in FirstEnergy’s service territory and ways to contact them:
NEWS CONTACT: Lauren Siburkis, (330) 203-8850
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