Know what’s below — It’s dig season

Know what’s below — It’s dig season

This is a guest blog post by Mark Santayana, project manager for PPL Electric Utilities’ Underground Facilities and Damage Prevention.

I love living in Pennsylvania! The character of the state runs the full spectrum of history and commerce, through the world-class cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to the bucolic serenity of Lancaster County and the great woods of the Northeast.

We’re also blessed with four unique and distinct seasons – Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter and Dig Season!

Typically, April 1 is the unofficial start of what is considered Dig Season in Pennsylvania. Of course, we all know April 1 as April Fools’ Day, but in my world as PPL Electric Utilities’ project manager for Underground Facilities and Damage Prevention, Dig Season and safe digging is no joke.

As warmer weather approaches, it is often pondered: What is the true sign that spring has officially, definitely, totally sprung? Some say it is the sighting of a robin. Others will point to the crocuses and tulips peeking through the earth.

The strongest indicators from our point of view are the daily, steady surge of dig notifications submitted to PA One Call by excavators, followed quickly by multiple sightings of yellow, blue, red and green flags and mark-out paint pinpointing the locations of underground utility lines throughout the communities we serve.

It’s also visible in the early morning presence of backhoes and augers accompanied by a small army of workers dressed in hard hats and high-visibility vests swarming the rights of way, highways and byways of the state’s road system.

This April 1 marks the fifth anniversary of National Safe Digging Month.

National Safe Digging Month is formally recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and has traditionally earned the support of nearly every governor across the country.

We’d like to remind homeowners and contractors to always call PA One Call at 811 at least three business days before beginning any digging project. The first layer of defense for all excavations is to know where all the underground utility lines are located before you dig.

According to Common Ground Alliance data, an underground utility line is unintentionally damaged by digging once every three minutes nationwide, and one-third of those incidents are caused when no call is made to 811. During 2014, some 34 percent of all PPL Electric Utilities’ dig-in damages were a result of someone neglecting to call PA One Call.

We urge residents and contractors to “Make the 811 Promise” and visit The 811 Promise serves as a reminder to make the call and to also promote the importance of 811. The site features a real-time promise tracker that allows all site visitors to view the campaign’s progress.

We’re advocating The 811 Promise as a simple reminder to always call 811 to avoid accidentally striking an underground utility line.

Spring is traditionally the peak time of the year for digging, and calling 811 is the safe way to learn the approximate location of underground utilities that include gas, electric, phone, Internet, water and sewer.

Throughout April, we’ll be promoting National Safe Digging Month. Won’t you join us?

For more information about 811, visit  or

Call 811 Before You Dig – Know What’s Below.

Unplugged outdoor lighting

Unplugged outdoor lighting

Summer is a great time to entertain your family and friends outdoors. My family spends a lot of time outdoors, and I’m all for taking the family fun outside to reduce our energy use and beautifying the backyard and patio. Upgrading to energy-efficient outdoor lighting products can make your home look great and help you save energy all year long.

I’m a DIYer to the core. I always seem to have my hand in some sort of home improvement project. To be honest, sometimes it feels like the list never ends. You check one project off your list, and you add two more. The good news is that these projects are fun and can make your house look great.

This year I had a few extra “to-do’s” on my list. As we were sprucing up the landscaping I decided this was the year the outdoor lighting needed an upgrade. Let me just say it was well past-due!

Off we went to the local home improvement store. You can get lost in those lighting aisles. As we browsed the aisles we found all sorts of things, from energy-efficient solar pathway and landscape lighting to ENERGY STAR® qualified fixtures, LED light bulbs and even exterior lights with motion sensors.

Based on what we had at our home, I opted for new LED lighting. Did you know that energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® LED bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy and last up to 20 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. (That’s a pretty big deal.)

But I wasn’t finished just yet. While some of the lights have motion detectors, I also wanted to put them on a timer. It seems we’re always flipping the light on for company and leaving it on … all night long. Those days (and nights) were about to end. We installed the perfect outdoor timer for us. We were able to adjust the dusk/dawn time settings. Easy! We’ll just have to remember to adjust in the fall when it gets a darker a bit earlier.

Patio light timer

And who doesn’t want to have a beautiful patio? The next thing on my list was to break out these super cute Mason jar solar light accents.

mason jar light mason jar light

They recharge daily with the sun and can be customized by adding a little extra decoration to the outside of the jar or by filling them. I filled mine with sea shells, but sand and a little flower or gemstones would also look great!

Landscape lighting

Are you thinking of upgrading your outdoor or patio lighting or have you finished any new projects? We’d love to hear what you’ve done in the comments below