Planning a home improvement project? Here's what you should know before digging

April is National Safe Digging Month!
As the weather gets nicer, local utility companies are warning people to be careful while improving their homes.
If you’re planning a home improvement project, here’s what you should know before digging:

CALL 811

An estimated 11 million people in the United States dug last year without first having underground utility lines marked, creating a dangerous situation. Calling 811 before digging reduces the chances of damaging an underground line to less than 1%. The call and service are free, and it’s the law.

GAS AND ELECTRIC LINES

Underground gas and electric lines are everywhere, even on private properties. These facilities can be easily damaged if dug into, with the potential to cause serious injuries. Digging into these lines can also disrupt vital utility services, resulting in costly delays, expensive repairs and environmental or property damage.

PROJECTS

Whether planning a major home improvement project or installing something as simple as a fence or mailbox post, a call must be placed beforehand to determine where it’s safe to dig.

WHEN TO CALL 811

Call 811 days before the commencement of each job to have underground pipes, wires and equipment located - some utilities require two or three business days ahead. Each facility owner must respond by providing the excavator with a positive confirmation indicating that marks are in place where utility lines are buried or that there are no existing facilities in the area of the proposed work. This service is free of charge.

GET CONFIRMATION

Be sure to wait until all of the utilities have responded. Don’t dig until lines have been marked, or you have received confirmation that the area is clear of facilities.

RESPECT THE MARKS

Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within 2 feet of marked lines to find the existing facilities before using mechanized equipment. Be mindful inclement weather may wash away the painted markings.

DAMAGED GAS LINES?

If gas lines are damaged or there is a gas smell when excavating, call 911 immediately from a safe area.