Spring into Safety: Always Call 811 Before Digging

DIY digging projects are as much of a harbinger of spring as warmer temperatures and longer days. But did you know that failing to call 811 before digging results in damage to a buried utility line once every nine minutes across the United States?

Work as simple as installing a mailbox, or fence post or adding landscaping could damage an underground gas or electric line. If you inadvertently hit a utility line, it’s not just a matter of inconvenience – knocking out service for yourself and your neighbors— it could become a serious safety hazard and result in costly repairs.

In recognition of National Safe Digging Month, we encourage homeowners and contractors to call 811 before starting any project involving digging to avoid damage to underground utilities.

Nationwide Safe Digging Program – Free of Charge to Everyone

Through a nationwide program, contractors and homeowners can call 811, or submit a request at Call811.com, at least two business days prior to digging. We will then mark the location of buried gas lines free of charge. It typically takes only 24-48 hours to complete a request to mark underground utility lines.

According to a survey of homeowners conducted by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, 36 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year admit that they will not call 811 before-hand. Homeowners cite the following projects as the most popular planned activities that involve digging:

  • Planting a tree or shrub (63 percent)
  • Building a fence (35 percent)
  • Building a patio or deck (28 percent)
  • Installing a mailbox (16 percent)

Tips to Avoid Trouble

Please take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • 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.
  • Confirm that all lines have been 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.
  • Visit Call811.com for complete info.

If you suspect a natural gas pipeline has been damaged or you detect a gas leak call SDG&E immediately at (800) 411-7343.