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a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is September 21, 2017

Editorial

Island emergency a reminder of the danger underground

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

When 10,000 tourists were forced to leave two popular North Carolina islands in July, they weren’t fleeing from a hurricane but a power outage, of all things.

The outage occurred when a workers building a bridge drove a steel casing through an underground transmission line. Officials ordered the tourists to evacuate, and some 9,000 homes lost power. The governor declared a state of emergency in part to help speed the repairs. Coming during the islands’ peak tourist season, the outage’s impact on the local economy was described as “huge.”

The incident is a sobering illustration of what can happen when people excavate, drill or bore without knowing where local underground utilities lie. Whether digging to erect fence posts, build a swimming pool or prepare a foundation, everyone should keep electrical safety foremost in mind.

Mississippi 811 Inc. (MS811) is a non-profit organization designed to keep people safe and protect underground utilities when excavations take place. MS811 maintains an information center in Jackson that serves as a communications link between those who dig (excavator, builders, property owners, etc.) and the utilities that operate underground facilities, including your electric power association.

When you call 811, utilities will be notified to send a representative to your dig site to mark the locations of their underground facilities. It’s a convenient, efficient system; 811 saves you from having to call multiple utilities.

Mississippi law requires excavators, contractors, building and private citizens who are going to drill, blast, dig and/or bore to notify MS811 before they start the work. You can read the law at www.ms1call.org.

We encourage you to get more information at www.ms1call.org or 811 while your excavation work is still in the planning stage.

 

Kids are back in school and the daylight hours are slowly diminishing. Soon school buses will be cruising in the dark on weekday mornings, until Daylight Saving Time ends on Nov. 5. Please drive with extra caution to help keep our students safe. Impatience, distracting driving and simple carelessness can result in tragedy on the road.

Also keep in mind that electric cooperative line crews may be out working on roadside lines at any time of day or night, in any kind of weather. Their extensive safety training and protective gear help keep them safe, but nothing can shield them from the inattentive, speeding driver. Please help keep our employees safe by considerably reducing your speed when approaching their work site.

 

This has been an unbelievably wet summer for much (if not all) of Mississippi. We’re seeing a number of trees collapse, evidently due to saturated soils in many cases. Electric power associations work hard to prevent trees and limbs from falling into power lines by diligently clearing power line rights-of-way. But we can’t cut everything everywhere.

If you see a tree (or anything else) in contact with a power line, please call your electric power association or 911 immediately to report it. Never, ever attempt to remove the debris yourself; a power line can appear to be “dead” but still carry enough current to cause serious injury or death.

Your electric power association will respond quickly to dispatch personnel to repair the line. Until they arrive, keep others far away from the site.

If you have any questions regarding electrical safety, your electric power association will be more than happy to help. They are, after all, your electrical safety experts.

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