April is National Safe Digging Month. It reminds us all that as we begin beautifying our yards, we shouldn’t just dig in. According to 811, the “Call Before You Dig” national hotline, an underground utility is damaged every nine minutes because someone didn’t call before digging.
Whether it is a do-it-yourself project or you are hiring a professional, call 811 or your state’s utility locating service two to three days prior to starting any digging project to request that all underground utilities be marked. (Call-to-completion time varies from state to state.) The service is free.
You may think it won’t hurt anything to dig in an unmarked yard when landscaping, installing a fence, deck or mailbox, or even “just” planting a small flower bed or bush, but damaging an underground cable can have serious consequences.
Hitting a line could result in serious injuries and disrupted service for you and your neighbors. It could also make a dent in your wallet for repair fees or other fines.
The 811 hotline points out that there is more than one football field’s length of buried utilities for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. Before digging:
• Notify your state’s one-call center by calling 811 or making an online request 2-3 days before work begins.
•Wait the required amount of time for affected utility operators to respond to your request.
• Confirm that all affected utility operators have responded to your request and marked underground utilities.
• Dig carefully around the marks with care.
Remember that privately owned underground lines will NOT be marked by location flaggers. Examples of private lines/equipment include well and septic, underground sprinkler systems, invisible fencing, gas or electric lines that serve a detached building, as well as any lines (electric, water, sewer) from the meter to your home.
For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.