With many people taking advantage of spring weather and free time to tackle yard projects, it’s important to dig safely on your property. Homeowners and contractors should always call 811 to have underground utility lines marked before digging.
That message is emphasized in April – National Safe Digging Month.
An underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes, according to the Common Ground Alliance, which formed to join all 50 states in an effort to prevent damage to the 20 million miles of underground utilities and infrastructure. The group said 509,000 excavation-related damages to underground utilities occurred in 2018, up from 2017’s estimate of 439,000 damages.
Hitting underground lines isn’t just a problem for utilities. Striking a line can cause injuries, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages.
Before you dig:
- Call 811 before you dig anywhere on your property at least three days before starting a project. A locator will mark lines on the property. The service is free.
- Call 811 before installing septic tanks and sewer lines, swimming pools, wells, sprinkler systems and water lines, basketball goal posts, mailbox posts, fence and deck posts, trees and shrubs.
- Even if you’ve had lines marked for previous projects, call 811 any time you plan to dig. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, including erosion, previous projects and uneven surfaces. Even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking a utility line exists.
Once your lines have been marked:
- Always dig around the markers – not on them.
- Always dig by hand within 30 inches of the markers, depending on the requirements in your state. Excavation equipment can damage underground lines.
If you strike a line
Even when lines are marked, accidents happen. If you make contact with an underground line, call the utility immediately so it can inspect for damage.
- If an underground power line is struck, Duke Energy customers should report the outage by texting OUT to 57801 or reporting it on the Duke Energy mobile app or duke-energy.com.
- If any contact with a natural gas line or the tracer wire alongside it is made, Piedmont Natural Gas customers should call 800.752.7504, and Duke Energy Natural Gas customers should call 800.634.4300.
- Connect to Piedmont’s safety page if you’re unsure how to recognize a natural gas leak and what you should do if you suspect a leak.
- For more information: Call Before You Dig.