Posted by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
At the Department of Transportation, your safety is our first priority. We understand the urge to get outside in the summer sun and tackle your home improvement projects. But before you jump in to expanding that flower bed, planting that shrub, or redoing the deck, remember to call 811 before you dig.
When you call 811, the federally designated call-before-you-dig number, you protect yourself and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines. There are millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of the earth that are vital to everyday living like water, telecommunications, electricity and natural gas.
811 helps homeowners and professionals avoid damaging these vital utilities. When you make the free call to 811 a few days before you dig, you'll help prevent unintended consequences such as injury to you or your family, damage to your property, utility service outages to the entire neighborhood and potential fines and repair costs.
You can call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to digging, and your call will be routed to your local one call center. Tell the operator where you're planning to dig. Your affected local utility companies will be notified about your intent to dig and will send locators to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.
Most locate crews will arrive to mark your dig site with paint or flags within a few days and will make sure you know where to avoid digging so you don't hit buried utilities. Remember the depths of utility lines may vary and there may be multiple utility lines in the same area. Be sure to check your state laws for specific information.
You called before digging, waited for your lines to be marked, and now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! Make sure to always dig carefully around the marks, not on them. Some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one - facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences. Don't forget that erosion or root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines, so remember to call again each time you are planning a digging job. Safe digging is no accident!
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