Traditionally, the summer months bring a groundswell of outdoor work and home improvement projects, which often include digging. National Safe Digging Day (811 Day) is an annual initiative to remind everyone to call 811 before starting any project that requires digging.
With the pandemic giving rise to more gardening activities and yard projects in the region, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has launched an ongoing campaign to spread awareness about the free undergrounding utility marking service to reduce the number of gas or electric line strikes from unsafe digging.
Underground utilities, including natural gas pipelines, underground electric lines, telephone cables and water lines, are located everywhere throughout the San Diego region, including under streets, sidewalks and private property, sometimes just inches below the surface.
“Whether you are a contractor or a DIYer just starting a project in your backyard, calling 811 should always be the first step,” said David Buczkowski, SDG&E’s vice president of gas distribution. “We all have a responsibility to do the right thing and protect our communities from the dangers of unsafe digging.”
Already this year, there have been approximately 150 local gas emergencies due to unsafe digging. Hitting a gas or electric line can result in a serious safety hazard, fires, property damage, loss of utility service, costly repairs and fines. Gas or electric strikes disrupt daily lives and cause a wide range of inconveniences to the public from service outages for an entire neighborhood to closed streets. These incidents also take up precious police and fire response resources.
Nationwide, every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged due to those digging without first contacting 811 according to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a national association dedicated to preventing damage to underground facilities. Unsafe digging from construction and landscaping activities resulted in almost 350 local gas emergencies last year.
Digging Soon? Here’s How to Observe National Safe Digging Day (811 Day)
• Submit a request to have underground utility lines marked by calling 811, visiting DigAlert.org or downloading the 811 app on your phone.
• Requests should be submitted at least two business days before digging. SDG&E will then mark the location of buried gas and electric lines free of charge.
• It typically takes only 24-48 hours to complete a request to mark underground utility lines.
• Make sure to always dig carefully around the marks, not on them.
No damage to gas or electric lines are too small to report. Even a small scrape or dent to a pipeline or underground electrical cable may cause a dangerous break or hazard in the future. If a customer or contractor causes what seems to be only minor damage to their gas or electric service lines or meters, they should call SDG&E immediately at (800) 411-7343.
SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing around 45 percent of its electricity from renewable sources; modernizing natural gas infrastructure; accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles; supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). For more information, visit SDGEnews.com or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.