At this time of year many Manitoba homeowners are itching to get outside to begin working in their yards. If you’re among this group and if you’re planning any project that involves excavation – like digging postholes for a fence, planting shrubs, installing a sprinkler system, or even putting in a new garden or flower bed – find out the location of underground natural gas and electrical lines before you dig. This could save your life and the lives of those around you.
Every year, homeowners and contractors in Manitoba damage buried utility lines on their property or job sites resulting in costly repairs, injuries, lawsuits and tragically, even fatalities. Sadly these accidents can be easily prevented with a free line location.
Recent changes to gas pipeline regulations have made it possible for Manitoba Hydro to be part of the ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com service provided by the Manitoba Common Ground Alliance. As a result, a landowner can now also request natural gas and electrical line locates, along with many other utility locates, with one online request or phone call.
ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com is free, simple to use and available 24/7. Once an online request is submitted and the locate is scheduled, Manitoba Hydro will mark underground natural gas and electrical lines free of charge, so work can proceed safely.
You must send a locate request to ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com at least three full work days before you intend to begin any project that involves excavation or disturbing the ground deeper than 15 cm.
If you don’t have access to a computer, you can call ClickBeforeYouDigMB at 1-800-940-3447.
Dig safe. Know what’s below.
Prepared by Linda Carter, PHEc Public Safety & Education Coordinator, Manitoba Hydro.
Updated in June 2015 by the Manitoba Association of Home Economists
Yards can be made more environmentally friendly with little or no cost and some reorganization of time,
activity and plant varieties. Try some of these ideas.
- Set up a rain storage barrel in an obscure corner of the yard. Be sure to have a secure lid so children and animals cannot fall in and so mosquitoes cannot propagate. Use the rainwater to water flower pots/indoor potted plants.
- Select plants that do not need large amounts of water. Consider perennials such as silver mound, perennial alyssum, baby’s breath, bergamot, bellflower, peony, hen and chicks, yarrow and veronica (speedwell). Lilies and irises also appreciate drier beds. Some annuals to consider are: hollyhocks, calendula, godetia, Dahlberg daisy, gazania, Livingstone daisy, portulaca, marigolds, geraniums, petunias and perennial salvia.
- Check plants to be sure they need water before watering. Scratch the soil to check for dampness down about 2-3 cm (one inch). Gardeners often have a tendency to water plants before they need it.
- Water plants early in the morning. Less water is lost to evaporation than if watering is done in midday when the sun and wind are at their fullest. Morning watering also lessens the chance of fungal growth on plants and is less inviting for slug activity.
- Watering gardens longer and less often (e.g., once a week) promotes deeper root growth and reduces water usage.
- To minimize water usage, consider xeriscaping.
- Make the most of your beds. Plant some vegetables or herbs in the flower garden. Parsnips, carrots, basil and parsnips add interesting foliage.
- Time your plantings so that you get the most out of your garden. Radishes and lettuce can be put in the area where tomatoes will be planted later. They will be ready for use and can be eliminated from the shared space when the tomatoes are becoming bushy and require more space.
- Plant fruit trees rather than ornamental trees. A small yard can provide space for grapes, plum, sour cherry and crabapple/apple and still leave room for vegetables, flowers, lawn and family activities.
- A bird bath and birdhouses will help attract birds, as do the berries/fruit on particular shrubs or trees. Bird feeders in the winter will help attract and sustain birds that over-winter. You may also be interested in putting up a hummingbird feeder to attract hummingbirds.
- Consider vegetation that attracts bees and butterflies. These are often more fragrant flowering plants and shrubs/trees.
- Compost grass clippings, dried leaves, eggshells, paper, fruit and vegetable wastes. Do not compost protein foods such as meat and milk. Shovel some dirt into the compost to help the process along. Add water and stir frequently. More information on composting is available from environmental organizations, municipal offices and the Internet.
- Dig lawn clippings and other compost waste into the garden.
- Plant spruce, cedar and like trees on the north side of the house to protect the house from the north winter winds. Leaf bearing trees to the south will shade the house in the summer but let the sun bring warmth in the winter.
- Use soapy laundry water for watering radishes and onions to control maggots.
- Pour boiling water on weeds and grass to kill them, rather than using herbicides. Leftover boiling water from making tea can be poured on a dandelion or weeds in sidewalk cracks.
- Mow with a push lawn mower. It is surprising how easy new models are to push and maneuver around the yard.
- Place a board or black plastic held down with weights over plants that you want to get rid of. Leave for a time and the lack of sunlight will cause the plants to die.
- Dry clothes out of doors on a clothesline. Alternatively, a folding clothes horse can be easily put up when needed and stored folded in the garage or behind some shrubs. Some clothes can be put on shrubs to dry.
- Increase the size of your garden devoted to growing edible foods. Processing some foods such as tomatoes is easy to do. Many vegetables can be frozen. Check our website for more detailed information on freezing and processing foods.
- Cover beds in fall with mulch and/or leaves to protect plants for the winter. The mulch/leaves can be worked into the beds in the spring to enrich the soil.
Keeping the yard neat and tidy will lessen the chances of providing a home for rodents and other pests. Stagnant water gives mosquitoes a place to lay eggs so eliminate this hazard by setting your watering equipment carefully to avoid overlapping. These hints will help keep your yard friendly in many different ways.
By Millie Reynolds, Home Economist
Injury rates among young workers spike between May and September, when young people are off school and in their seasonal jobs.
Many of these accidents are the result of pressures and distractions of a new job, a lack of understanding about electricity, and not being careful. It’s important for new employees to ask questions or speak up when they have concerns.
How much electricity does it take to cause fatalities?
Every year in North America, electricity kills hundreds of people in the workplace and at home, and it maims many more. It takes about 1000 milliamps of electricity to run a 100-watt light bulb – but under the right conditions, it can take only 50 milliamps to kill.
Whether the voltage is high or low, an electrical current can cause serious injury or death if you become a path for electricity to get to the ground.
Here are some tips to help you avoid the safety hazards common to summer jobs:
• Be aware of overhead wires when shingling, siding or painting. Use extreme caution and stay a
safe distance away when raising, lowering or moving pipe, rods, ladders, or equipment.
• Do not touch service wires that enter a building.
• Do not trim trees closer than ten feet (three metres) to power lines.
• Call Manitoba Hydro if tree branches are touching power lines.
• Never climb hydro poles or attach signs or equipment to them.
• If you are outside during an electrical storm, stay away from large trees or poles, especially if they are the tallest in the area.
• Use a GFCI outlet when using power tools outdoors.
• Before you do any digging or disturbing the ground deeper than 15 cm, verify the location of all underground electrical or natural gas lines via ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com.
Prepared by Linda Carter, PHEc Public Safety & Education Coordinator, Manitoba Hydro