Spring means many people will begin tackling yard projects. Along with the pride of a landscaping job well done comes the responsibility of digging safely on your property. April is the 10th annual National Safe Digging Month, when homeowners and contractors are reminded to call 811 to have underground utility lines marked before digging.
Hitting underground lines isn’t just a problem for utilities. Striking a utility 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, it’s worth calling 811 any time you plan to dig. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous projects and uneven surfaces. Even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking a utility line still exists.
Once your lines have been marked:
- Always dig around the markers – not on them.
- Always "hand dig" within 30 inches of the markers. Excavation equipment can damage underground lines.
If you strike a line
Even when lines are properly marked, accidents happen. If you make contact with an underground line, call the utility immediately so they can inspect for damage.
- If you strike an underground power line, Duke Energy customers should call the outage reporting phone number for their state.
- If you make any contact with a natural gas line or the tracer wire alongside it, Piedmont Natural Gas customers should call 800.752.7504.