April is National Safe Digging Month!
March 28, 2016
An underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to data collected by Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them. Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in damage to gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines, which can lead to service disruptions, serious injuries and costly repairs.
There are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities in the United States, according to data compiled by CGA from various industry groups. That figure equates to more than one football field’s length (105 yards) of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
Southern Star and CGA’s 1,700 members, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and most governors have proclaimed April as National Safe Digging Month as a way to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.
As part of National Safe Digging Month, Southern Star encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:
- Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
- Confirm with your one-call center that all lines have been marked.
- Learn what the various colors of paint and flags represent at http://www.call811.com/faqs.
- Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.