Make calling 811 a priority before every digging project

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, March 4, 2012

(ARA) – Winter is over and warmer weather is finally here. Homeowners can finally put away their snow shovels and venture out into their yards with digging shovels for those long-awaited home improvement projects. All across the country, homeowners and professional excavators alike will start to plan spring home-improvement projects that require digging.

During the transition into “digging season,” Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the association dedicated to protecting underground utilities and the people who dig near them, reminds homeowners and professional diggers that calling 811 is the first step toward protecting you and your community from the risk of unintentionally damaging an underground line.

Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a free call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one-call utility notification center. Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811.

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Here’s how it works:

1. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with flags or paint.

2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, who will then send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.

4. Only once all lines have been accurately marked, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.

There are nearly 20 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States that your family depends on for everyday needs including electric, gas, water and sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet and landline telephone.

Unintentionally striking one of these lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or your neighbors and repair costs. Digging activity by homeowners and professionals causes unintentional damage to an underground utility line once every three minutes nationwide, and one out of three incidents are caused because someone did not call 811.

According to the most recent data from CGA, damage occurs less than 1 percent of the time when the digger has called 811 before a project.

To find out more information about 811 or the one-call utility notification center in your area, visit www.call811.com.