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JustSwell

Digging Safety? Utilities? War Stories?

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This may sound like a dumb question but I'm new to detecting and haven't really found many talking about where and when it's safe to dig.  If this is posted in the wrong place, please do move it.

When digging within city limits, parks, yards, in green strips along sidewalks, what about public utility lines, phone lines, or plastic gas lines in yards.  How much of this are some of you concerned about?  Do you have any "war stories" to tell?  Any best practices for safety in this regard that you could share?

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Most digs are 8" or less. The deepest hole may go all the way to a foot. The chances of hitting something dangerous at less than a foot are so slim as to be non-existent. After 45 years of detecting I never give it a thought. The biggest danger is old war zones and finding live artillery rounds but I have never heard of anyone actually getting blown up.

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In NZ they run a layer of bright orange tape saying DANGER WIRES BELOW so if you ever strike the tape digging you don't dig deeper, although the wires are still a long way down so you wouldn't normally dig that deep anyway and you just stop if you ever hit the tape.  I struck that tape once a few weeks ago but it wasn't metal detecting, it was digging in a hedge of plants.  

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We got our park closed to detecting because people were cutting the poly pipe waterlines with their digging tools.  Not dangerous but something that was probably less than a foot....

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The one utility line I've noticed close to or even on the surface is cable TV lines.  I'm pretty sure they are supposed to be deeper, but it's kind of a free-for-all in that business (in case you don't see TV ads...).  A bigger concern for me on public property is whether or not I'm allowed to dig at all.  But just about every US muni/county/township/parish has a website so I just go there and find out the rules.  If they don't say I can't, I assume I can.  I don't stir up a hornet's nest by calling and asking.  If you've been around long enough (as in "didn't just fall off the turnip truck") you know what I mean.

 

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As a former State Manager in the underground utility locate profession I have seen many shallow cables and pipes hit by homeowners. When in doubt call your states local one call center. It's free.

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