Most of the time, you don’t hear about abandoned wells until a child falls in one. However, they can pose everyday safety hazards for both people and animals. And, abandoned wells can create a potential source of groundwater contamination.

The California Groundwater Association and Iowa State University offer these tips on how to prevent tragedies and protect your water resources.

1. Know what’s on your property, whether you own, rent or lease. Look for signs of a well covered with sheet metal or plywood. Mark it if you find one and call a licensed water﷓well contractor for assistance to secure or plug the well.

2. Proper plugging materials must be strong, durable and free from contaminants. In addition, the well must be plugged with water﷓tight sealing materials to prevent contamination. Inappropriate materials and methods can lead to settling, sudden collapse and continued groundwater contamination. Use a certified well contractor, because he knows the proper plugging methods and can inspect the well and obtain the required permits from your local health department.

3. Make sure any well you do use is covered securely to prevent anyone from contaminating your water. This also will prevent any person or animal from falling into an open shaft.

4. Encourage your friends and relatives to check their properties for abandoned wells.