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Call 811 before you dig

Thirty-eight million. That is how many Americans will be digging around buried utility lines this year, according to a recent survey by the Common Ground Alliance. They found that nearly half of American home owners who plan to dig for projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox, or building a deck, pond or patio, will put themselves at risk by not calling 811 a few days before hand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

According to CGA, an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.  Digging without knowing the location of what is below can result in damage to gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines which can lead to service disruptions, costly repairs and more importantly, serious injuries.

“Underground utility lines may be virtually anywhere,” said Rad Combs, safety coordinator for Blue Grass Energy. “ Last year we had a total of 10 ‘dig-ins’ for a cost of $29,000 in repairs.”

Anyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connecting to the local notification center that will communication the callers information to us. Our professional locator will then visit the site to mark the approximate location and spray with paint or a flag. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging.

“Using 811 has reduced underground power line incidents,” remarked Combs. “A simple phone call to have utilities mark the property could save someone money but more importantly, their life.”

Calling 811 is free so there is no charge for someone to come out and mark your property.

Members are encouraged to take the following steps when planning a digging project:

  • 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.
  • 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.

So remember to call each time you are planning a digging job. Safe digging is no accident!

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