Septic Tank Safety Warnings
A 4-year-old child disappears from a neighbor’s driveway one evening and is found dead two days later in a septic tank with a cracked lid, a few feet from where he was last seen. A father and son pass out, overcome by methane fumes while repairing their home’s septic tank. Another son climbs down into the tank to help them, but he, too, is overcome, and all three family members drown. These and other tragic accidents involving septic tanks have made headlines in recent years.
Please follow these safety rules at all time.
- Never lean over a septic tank opening or stick your head into tank to examine its interior — you could become overcome by gases, fall into the tank, and suffocate. Leave tank cleaning and repairs to trained professionals.
- Never enter a septic tank unless you are specially trained and are wearing special equipment and gear for that purpose, including a self-contained breathing apparatus.
- Do not go into a septic tank to retrieve someone who has fallen in and was overcome by gases unless you are equipped with a self-contained breathing apparatus. Instead, call for emergency services and put one or more fans at the top of the septic tank to blow in fresh air.
- Never work alone in or around a septic tank.
- Don't ignite flames or smoke cigarettes at or near the tank. This can cause an explosion.
- Be sure that the tank and its access ports have sound and secure covers that do not risk collapse and which cannot be removed or nudged aside by children or animals.
- Beware of old, collapsing septic systems. Abandoned septic tanks with unsafe covers have caused deaths among children, adults, pets, horses, and livestock. Watch out for evidence of sinking soil, rusted-through steel septic tank covers, home-made wooden or flimsy tank covers, or home made cesspools and drywells which risk collapse.
- Watch for electrical hazards when digging outdoors. Watch out that you don't dig into and cut an electrical wire (or other buried mechanical line such as a gas or water line). Buried electrical wires can look a lot like tree roots.
- Rope off and mark dangerous sites.
- Be alert for unsanitary conditions such as surface effluent or sewage backups into buildings, events which may expose your family to serious viral and bacterial hazards. Indoors, these backups may require professional cleaning.
- Do not drive over your septic tank or septic piping. It can collapse. If a septic line must be run under a driveway, the line must be protected with special materials or placed in a concrete-covered and protected trench of adequate depth.
For additional information, contact: (803) 898-4329 Fax (803) 898-4200