Know what’s be­low be­fore you dig this spring

Cecil Whig - - WE ATHE R -

With the snow gone and the ground thawed, many ea­ger home­own­ers and land­scape pro­fes­sion­als across the coun­try are rolling up their sleeves and reach­ing for their shov­els to start projects that re­quire dig­ging this spring.

Dur­ing the tran­si­tion into “dig­ging sea­son,” Com­mon Ground Al­liance (CGA), the as­so­ci­a­tion ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing un­der­ground util­i­ties and the peo­ple who dig near them, re­minds home­own­ers and pro­fes­sional dig­gers that call­ing 811 is the first step to­wards pro­tect­ing you and your com­mu­nity from the risk of un­in­ten­tion­ally dam­ag­ing an un­der­ground line.

Every dig­ging project, no mat­ter how large or small, war­rants a free call to 811. In­stalling a mail­box or fence, build­ing a deck and landscaping are all ex­am­ples of dig­ging projects that should only be­gin a few days af­ter mak­ing a call to 811. Call­ing this num­ber con­nects you to your lo­cal one call util­ity no­ti­fi­ca­tion cen­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to data col­lected by CGA in a phone sur­vey in late Fe­bru­ary, more than half (46 per­cent) of Amer­i­can home­own­ers said they plan to do DIY projects in­volv­ing dig­ging this year, but 40 per­cent of them do not plan to make a free call to 811 be­fore dig­ging. Ex­trap­o­lated to the full pop­u­la­tion of U.S. home­own­ers, ap­prox­i­mately 51.8 mil­lion peo­ple will dig this year with­out first call­ing 811.

A util­ity line is dam­aged every six min­utes in Amer­ica be­cause some­one de­cided to dig with­out mak­ing a call to 811 to learn the ap­prox­i­mate lo­ca­tion of buried util­i­ties in their area. Un­in­ten­tion­ally strik­ing one of these lines can re­sult in in­con­ve­nient out­ages for en­tire neigh­bor­hoods, harm to your­self or your neigh­bors and re­pair costs.

As a re­sult, CGA of­fers the fol­low­ing tips to make sure you com­plete your project safely and with­out any util­ity ser­vice in­ter­rup­tions, so you don’t be­come a statis­tic.

Here’s how the 811 process works:

1. One free, sim­ple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your lo­cal one call cen­ter to no­tify all ap­pro­pri­ate util­ity com­pa­nies of your in­tent to dig. Call a few days prior to dig­ging to en­sure enough time for the ap­prox­i­mate lo­ca­tion of util­ity lines to be marked with flags or paint.

2. When you call 811, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from your lo­cal one call cen­ter will ask for the lo­ca­tion and de­scrip­tion of your dig­ging project.

3. Your lo­cal one-call cen­ter will no­tify af­fected util­ity com­pa­nies, which will then send pro­fes­sional lo­ca­tors to the pro­posed dig site to mark the ap­prox­i­mate lo­ca­tion of your lines.

4. Only once all lines have been ac­cu­rately marked, roll up those sleeves and care­fully dig around the marked ar­eas.

There are nearly 19 mil­lion miles of un­der­ground util­ity lines in the United States that your fam­ily de­pends on for ev­ery­day needs in­clud­ing elec­tric, gas, wa­ter and sewer, cable TV, high-speed In­ter­net and lan­d­line tele­phone. That equals more than a football field’s length of util­i­ties for every per­son in the United States. With that much crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture un­der­ground, it’s im­por­tant to know what’s be­low and call 811 be­fore dig­ging.

To find out more in­for­ma­tion about 811 or the one call util­ity no­ti­fi­ca­tion cen­ter in your area, visit call811.com.

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