LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - There are natural gas lines buried all over southwest Oklahoma and Wednesday, first responders and excavators learned about the importance of digging safely around them.
They learned proper procedure for digging around gas lines, what to do in case something goes wrong and thanks to the meeting, who they need to call in an emergency.
Wednesday's training ended with a mock line strike that showed everyone exactly what you should and shouldn't do when approaching a dig site. How to handle a dangerous situation like a gas leak is obviously important, but the message was more about how to prevent those situations from occurring at all.
"We want them to dig safely and in order to do that they need to make sure they are in contact with each other, that they know who to call if they do damage an underground facility, what to do in the event of an underground damage strike," said Executive Director for OKIE811 Susan Bohl.
In one room of training today, pipeline operators had exhibits to teach people about what, exactly, they do. In another room, excavators were given information about what is called the one-call process, calling a group called OKIE at 811 anytime you need to dig, no matter what.
"How long you have to wait after you call before you start digging, what the tolerance zone is for when you dig around those facilities, as well as if you do hit a pipeline or electric line what to do in the event of that. You still dial 811 to report that damage," Bohl said.
There was also a lesson on the importance of knowing where in your community there are gas lines. That's obviously very important to first responders but is equally important to any resident who may just be digging around their house.
"We don't want you to hit an electric line, we don't want you to hit a fiber optic telephone line in your neighborhood, we don't want you to hit a pipeline and explode anything. It's very important that you protect yourself by getting the lines located and working with the people who know the most about those underground facilities," Bohl said.
If you are ever digging -- that includes just a small hole at your house -- you need to call 811. OKIE811 will send someone out to mark what is underneath where you're digging to ensure you and everyone around you is safe.