Teaching kids when they are young about the importance of construction-related safety practices can help make them habit.
That’s what Ditch Witch of Oklahoma was trying to do when it teamed up with Chesapeake Midstream Partners and Oklahoma One-Call System Inc., a.k.a., Call Okie (a non-profit safety and damage-prevention program designed to promote public awareness and provide a communication link between excavators and operators of underground facilities), to create “We Dig Schools,” an educational program that teaches elementary students the importance of pipeline safety and calling 811 before digging to avoid utility service interruption and injury.
The hour-and-a-half program teaches students about the science of line locating, what types of cables and pipelines are typically buried underground, how to identify a pipeline leak by using their senses, and how to interpret a pipeline marker.
Students also receive a hands-on experience through supervised exploration of emergency vehicles and a Ditch Witch SK650 compact tool carrier, which can be used in utility installation projects. “We Dig Schools” program participants also received a visit from Okie, the Call Okie gopher mascot.
During the months of March and April 2012, the “We Dig Schools” team traveled to four schools around Oklahoma: KIPP Tulsa, Waynoka Elementary School in Waynoka, Horace Mann Elementary School in Oklahoma City, and West Elementary School in Weatherford.
“It’s never too early to educate people about the importance of calling 811 before they dig anywhere, whether they’re installing a pipeline or planting a tree,” says Megan Lamerton of Ditch Witch Oklahoma in a press release. “This program has the right balance of fun and education to convey a message that these kids will take to heart.”