It is the time of year where the Perrysburg Fire Division sees an increase in people hitting natural gas lines as well as other underground utility lines during construction and landscaping projects.
To enhance public safety, the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) was created. Ohio Revised Code Sections 3781.25 and 3781.32 require, everyone to contact the O.U.P.S. at least 48 hours, but no more than 10 working days (excluding weekends and legal holidays), before starting any digging or excavation work.
It is recommended that no project is too small to contact O.U.P.S. It is impossible to determine if there are any underground utilities and/or from what direction they may enter the building. Even if you are replacing a mailbox or fence post there is no guarantee that the person who made the original installation called or simply got lucky.
Another factor to consider is whether the topography of the ground has changed. The utilities may have originally been buried at the correct depth but over time erosion may have caused the utilities to be closer to the surface than anticipated.
When you do not call, you are not only risking your safety and the lives of those around you but emergency responders as well. What many people do not realize is that they will be liable for repairs and damage done to property from fire/explosion and lost product.
Even when O.U.P.S. has marked the utility lines, accidents do occur. For your safety, you should walk away immediately and take steps to get out of the area to protect yourself and your crew. Don't try to repair or stop a leak yourself or use anything that might create a spark, such as a cell phone.
If a substance starts releasing into the air, such as natural gas, immediately call 9-1-1. For any damaged facility, you should also contact the utility company listed on the nearest marker as well as O.U.P.S., even if there appears to be no damage, not all facility damages can be detected by the naked eye.
O.U.P.S. can be contacted 24 hours a day at either 8-1-1 or 1-800-362-2764.