House Calls from 811: Call Before You Dig

April is National Safe Digging Month, just in time to remind motivated do-it-yourself homeowners to call 811 before picking up a shovel and breaking ground on that spring project. 

Don’t know about 811?  811 is a new federally-mandated phone number designated by the FCC to consolidate all local “Call Before You Dig” numbers.  It was established to help save lives by minimizing damages to underground utilities.  Recent tragedies in California and Pennsylvania involving exploding underground gas lines underscore the  importance of taking care around buried utility lines. 

Knowing where those lines are located can spare you expense, penalties, injury and even death.  It also helps protect infrastructure. The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in the same area.  Even simple digging projects can damage utility lines and disrupt vital services to an entire neighborhood – not to mention harm the digger.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be psychic to know where underground utility lines are buried before your digging project begins.  Identifying danger zones is easier than you think.  By placing a single call to 811, you can arrange a visit from a local utility, whose representative will mark your yard, showing where lines are buried – for free.  Marked lines show diggers the approximate location of underground lines and help prevent undesired consequences. Lines are marked by chalk or flags, and are designed to be easy to read by homeowners.

A recent national survey revealed that roughly half of Americans are “active diggers” who have done (or are planning to do) some type of digging project at home.  So whether you’re a professional excavator or an avid do-it-yourselfer, you need to call 811 before you dig, every time.

The national 811 campaign is a project of The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), working with its 1,400 individual members, member organizations, sponsors and 811 campaign national launch partners. CGA is a member-driven association dedicated to ensuring public safety, environmental protection, and the integrity of services by promoting effective damage prevention practices.

Americans can avoid having the shovels they use for outdoor projects lead to potentially dangerous consequences. Just call 811.  It’s a simple act that could save your life.